250 Years of Books for Young and Old


1760 – 2010

1760: Library Company founded August 9th
First Accession, John Locke’s “Essay Concerning Human Understanding”
Joseph Thornton chosen librarian; books and effects kept at his home
21 original members

1761: David Twining serves as librarian to 1789; books moved to Twining’s home

1774: After the board meeting of October 29, 1774 no other meeting was held until October 25, 1783

1783: Board Minutes of November 1, 1783 reference missing books and the late “public commotions”  (American Revolution)

1789: The word Newtown added to Library Company; Incorporation granted by Special Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature March 27, 1789

1806: 50 members and 456 books

1813: County Seat moved to Doylestown
Newtown Library Company books housed in the old Court House building
William Penn Chairs become property of the Library Company

1824: Newtown’s First Library Building constructed on a 15 ft. square lot facing Court St. donated by Squire Issac Hicks father of Edward Hicks
Edward Hicks paints sign for the library depicting Ben Franklin in posture of reading a book
Sign includes Latin motto translated as “Books are Useful to the Young, And a Pleasure to the Old”

1860: Committee renumbers, rearranges, and re-catalogs library books into eight divisions; 434 complete volumes; 70 volumes of incomplete work

1872: Women (Miss Sallie E. Bunting; Miss Mary Eyre) for the first time elected to the Board of Directors

1882: Jesse Leedom donates lot on the NW corner of Court St. and Centre Ave. for construction of a new library building

1883: New library constructed and furnished for $1,642.41 in front of where the old Court House was located
Wilhelmina Hough Barnsley begins her service as Board Secretary; she serves for 40 years

1885: Juvenile books separated from the general collection

1886: Anna Mary Williamson of Langhorne leaves $4,000.00 to the Newtown Library for the “purchase of books of a standard and useful character and to the exclusion of the light sensational useless and pernicious publications of the day.”

1888: Joseph Barnsley of Hartsville bequeaths $15,000.00 to the Newtown Library Company for the purpose of establishing a free reading room

1909: George Antes Jenks serves as President of the Library Board for nearly 40 years until his death April 2, 1909
4,000 – 5,000 books in collection

1911: Present colonial type building (corner of Centre and Congress) erected through funds bequeathed by Joseph Barnsley

1928: Dorothy Fitzgerald, a Newtown High School English teacher, begins her association with the library; serves as a part-time volunteer; serves as main librarian beginning in 1994

1932: Edward R. Barnsley elected president of Board of Directors serves 35 years as Board Member and President

1952: Frances Cronin begins her 42 years of service to the Newtown Library Company

1978: Addition to rear of 1911 Library building completed

2000: Luise Cornell endows the library with a major contribution

2004: Children’s Room addition completed
Dorothy Fitzgerald endows the library with a major contribution

2009: 381 members
Collection consists of over 21,135 books
Portrait of Anna Mary Williamson dedicated
Model of Newtown’s First Library dedicated

2010: Recognition of benefactors; 250th Celebration