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Collection on James K. Hosmer

Identifier: M/A 0301

Description of Contents

The James K. Hosmer Collection consists primarily of biographical information and correspondence.


  • 1891 - 1929


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for use in Special Collections during the department's open hours.


Dr. James Kendall Hosmer (1834-1927)

"The function of the public library is to put into the hands of every individual citizen at the shortest notice any book in any class that he may need for his pleasure or benefit."

James K. Hosmer was born in Northfield, Mass., Jan. 29, 1834. He attended Harvard University and the theological school there and for several years he was a Unitarian minister. After the Civil War, in which he served in the Union Army, he taught English literature and history at Antioch College, the University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Hosmer wrote extensively as a historian throughout his career. While at Harvard he met many famous writers of the day such as; Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Holmes, and Agassiz. Throughout his life he maintained friendships with other authors and public figures including Charles Eliot, William Dean Howells, Winston Churchill, James Bryce and Phillps Brooks.

He was appointed the director of the Minneapolis Public Library in 1892 succeeding Herbert Putnam. He served 12 years as director and two years as president of the American Library Association. Hosmer retired in 1904 and was succeeded by Gratia Countryman. The Hosmer library, built in 1916, was named in his honor in 1926. The Special Collections department was named in his honor in 2004.

Hosmer died on May 11, 1927.


2.10 Linear Feet (5 box)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

Books and framed letters were acquired from the estate of Hosmer's granddaughter, Kendall Hosmer Mix, August, 2014 as accession 2014.07. The autobiography facsimile was made by the Minneapolis Athenaeum from the original, which is now lost. The remaining materials were gathered by the staff of the Minneapolis Public Library during the course of Hosmer's career with the Library and afterwards.

Collection on James K. Hosmer
Bailey Diers
July 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.