Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Pasts

"1887  Thanksgiving Ball in the town hall, Littleton, Thursday evening, Nov 24.  Floor director:  H.E. Hendley; aids:  C. A. Priest,  J.H.Hartwell, F.B. Priest, L.E. Fletcher, F. A. Hosmer, J.H.D. Whitcomb, J.W.Ireland, G.D. Jacobs, F. N. Hartwell, A.F. Kimball, FA. Tuttle, Frank Haynes, Clayton Hartwell.  Music:  Carter's band of Boston.  Concert from 7:45 till 8:30.   Dancing from 8:30 till 1."

"Gone:  The barrels of clothing consisting of fifty-nine articles, books and papers, to the Crow Indians the latter part of last week, was sent by the ladies' sewing circle of the Unitarian church.  The clothing sent is well adapted to the young bloods of the Indian tribe."

"1888-  The Kickapoo Indians have been here and pitched their tent, or tried to, in the town hall, but did go across the street to Sawyer Hoar's house to camp at night.  There was some misunderstanding about letting them the hall, but after the pledge was given in a business like way, it didn't seem right to withhold it when they came with their chattels and medicines.  They were in Concord two weeks, and sold a thousand dollars' worth of their medicines.  They are at Westford for a stay of two days."

"1889-concerning books purchased by the Library-  "At various times books of a religious character, as well as others desired by readers, have been rejected because of opinions set forth, such as the majority of the trustees are not willing to have promulgated from the library.  The action of the trustees at their last meeting is especially noteworthy and unwarrantable.  Among the books asked for and procured by the librarian for the consideration of the trustees were the following:  "The Bible for Learners" by Dr. H. Oort and Dr. I. Hooykaas, "What is the Bible" by Rev J.T. Sunderland, and "Rachel Armstrong" by Celia P. Woodley.  These are all books written by well known and highly respected authors, and published with no denominational imprint, the first by Roberts Bros., and the last by Ticknor and Company.  There can be no claim that the books were refused because of the nature of the subjects treated, for books of the same kind, but mostly written from a different point of view have been purchased without hesitation.  Neither was the objection on the score of expense, for at the same meeting at which these books which had been asked for were rejected, books costing several times as much and which no one had called for were purchased.   They were refused on purely sectarian grounds, because the views presented were not considered by the majority of the trustees suitable to be furnished by the library to the people of the town.
And it is the principle here illustrated to which the attention of the citizens of Littleton is directed, and not the citizens of Littleton only, but the public generally, for it is a point of general interest.
Are the trustees of a free public library to be censors of the doctrinal character of the books admitted into the library, and if so, are they to exercise this power according to the theological preferences of the majority?
At the last annual convention of the American library association, held in St Louis, the president of the association said:  Soundness or unsoundness of doctrine, whether in theology or philosophy, in the social or natural sciences, is not to be considered by the buyer, even if he thinks himself competent to decide....For the book which will mislead the reader there is an antidote in the book written on the other side"  
It is evident that this is the only fair principle upon which to act.  Those who are afraid of the effect to be produced upon views which they hold, by the reading of different opinions, must depend for the maintenance of their position, less upon intelligence that upon ignorance and prejudice.
A public library should supply so far as its means permit, a fair proportion of books representing the different views held by its readers.
In the case of the Reuben Hoar library it is plain that this was the plan of the generous founder of the library.  It was provided in the terms of his gift that there should be an equal representation on the board of trustees from the three religious denominations having churches in town by which it is implied that the views of each denomination will be equally represented in the books purchased for the library.
There can be no doubt of the unfairness of a method of administration which not only largely confines the purchase of books on disputed subjects to those representing the views of the majority of the trustees but even refuses to receive as a gift certain books setting forth views sincerely held and properly stated which are acceptable to intelligent and responsible citizens of the community.
I should not fail to state that not all the trustees are responsible for the course pursued in this respect but the more liberal members have been overruled by the majority.
I protest, therefore, not only as one of the trustees, but as a citizen and in behalf of other citizens whose rights in regard to the public library are infringed upon.  My object in making this protest in our local paper is to arouse in the community a sentiment which shall in future prevent the trustees from being guided by sectarian and theological views in the selection of any books for the public library.
Comparatively few public libraries at the present time are controlled by such narrow and unworthy considerations, and it is not creditable to the town of Littleton that they should in the least degree enter into the management of the Reuben Hoar library, which, in all other respects is a constant source of pride and pleasure to the people of the town.
With reference to the three books above mentioned as rejected after having been called for by respectable citizens using the library, they are all books which I can heartily recommend as written in a right spirit and calculated to benefit those who may read them.  I would suggest to any who may like to know on what ground books have been refused as suitable for the library, to examine these for themselves, and I shall be most happy to lend them from my own library to any persons in town who will apply to me for them.    w.i. nichols"

"1903  Middlesex Hunt- The fifteen members of the Middlesex Hunt from Lincoln, with the same number of hounds, arrived promptly at Littleton Common the scheduled time, 10:30 Tuesday a.m.  Congregating at the junction of roads the whipperin had a chance to show his perfect control of the dogs.  After a short rest the party started down the Great Road, followed by a few enthousiastic sportsmen.   It was a pre arranged drag fox hunt and the scent was given the dogs at the foot of W. H. Proctor's hill on the left side.  The entire party, which included one lady, followed in full chase, the deck tailed hunters taking fences, stonewalls and ditches as easily as if they were a spadeful of gravel.  Skirting round the limit of Proctor's land they passed on into the fields of W.G. Brown, the hounds in good lead, the horsemen with their scarlet coats making a brilliant showing as they dashed in and out of sight over hill and dale.  The hounds led the chase by a long way when they finally appeared in the rear of Clifton Flagg's buildings, then led the party out of sight towards Nagog pond and the country that lies beyond.  Come again!"

"About town-  From an intellectual point of view, Littleton people are highly favored.  They should and  do stand for the highest and best.  Within its precinct are eight organizations for mental growth, progress and excellence.  They consist of the lyceum, historical society, grange, the women's christian temperance union, the kings daughters, woman's, mother's and sunshine clubs.  These organizations are entirely outside of the church, but abreast with it, while each church within its limits has from two to half a dozen societies for spiritual growth and uplifting.  We fancy our sister towns will think we are a great town instead of a little town."

"1926-  The 45th annual Thanksgiving Ball of the Back-log club will be held on Thursday evening of next week in the town hall beginning at eight.  Brigham and Poole's orchestra of Boston will furnish music.  The committee in charge follows:  Mr. and Mrs. John Sibley, Mr. and Mrs. George Hartwell, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Prouty."