History of the Taft Public Library

History of the Taft Library:

The Taft Public Library is the town library for Mendon, MA a community of 5.839 people in Central Massachusetts.  The library is situated in the historic Blackstone Valley Corridor, an important rural, then industrial component of the industrial Revolution in Massachusetts.

“The library was established in 1881 with a gift of $1,000 from Mrs. William R. Huston in memory of her brother, Putnam W. Taft.  The town provided the use of a small brick building.  On August 17th, 1881, a public inauguration was held at the First Parish Church with an address by Rev. Charlton Staples.  A quotation for his address reads: “This library has been founded especially for the young.  It is the earnest desire of the donor that they may regard it especially as their institution, and take a deep interest in its preservation and usefulness.”

“The library opened for the delivery of books on August 20th, 1881 with Rev. George Clark as librarian.  There were a total of 1,478 volumes in the library and the number of borrowers for the first year was 329.”

The library was housed in a small building for many years.  As more space was required the library raised funds for a new building.  St. Michael’s Catholic Church was purchased and the new library opened in June of 2016.  It continues to provide an excellent program for children, encouraging them to participate in the community as was the founder’s original intent.


The Taft Public Library collection includes information about the history of the Taft and other Mendon libraries.

 Below is a complete list of items that are housed in the Genealogy Room of the library.




ANNUAL REPORT– the first annual report of Board of Trustees of library

BANK– Mendon Bank became the Taft Public Library (1881 tohttp://www.taftpubliclibrary.org/wp-admin/link-manager.php 1920), then the Mendon Historical Society

Museum.  There is a copy of photo of building as well

BOARD OF TRUSTEES– minutes of the Board of Trustees, 6/10/1981, Mary Szymczak, Secretary, 2 copies

BOOKSELLER- letter, from W.B. Clarke, bookseller, an original and copy

BOOKSELLER– copy of letter from W.B. Clarke, bookseller to G.B. Williams, original letters 6/24/1881

BROWN, ZAIDEE– Directions for the Librarian of a Small Library by Zaidee Brown, 1911, Free Public

Library Commission of Massachusetts

BUDGET– library budgets account record book, 1967 – 1992; also account books 1881 -1932, 1933-1966

CATALOG– catalog of books of the Taft Public Library of Mendon, MA with articles of organization and

Library rules, 1892 (GM Billings, printer,) an original and copies

CATALOG– catalog of books in library, 8/1/1881

CATALOG– supplemental catalogue of books and pamphlets in library, including additions made

Between 8/1/1881 and 7/1/1883

CENTENNIAL– celebration of Taft Library, 1881-1981 (original and copy)

CHAPMAN AND WINN– letter between company and Board of Trustees regarding work to be done on

Records Building, 5/16/1881.  (original)

DANIELS, VESTELLA– history of the Taft Public Library, written by Vestella Daniels in 1967

DEWEY, MELVIN– Library School Rules by Melvin Dewey, Director of NY State Library, 4th edition, 1899

Boston Library Bureau.  An original hardcover edition

FENCE– a letter from the Mendon Selectmen to the library trustees regarding the building of a fence

to act as a barrier around building (original and copy)

FIVE HUNDRED TITLES– classified by subject, with notes from Syracuse Public Library, March, 1929. An

Interesting compilation of titles

FLETCHER, AUSTIN– paper about Austin B. Fletcher and his $5,000 bequest to the Taft Mendon Library,

  1. This established the Fletcher Fund.

FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY– Ninth Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, 1899

(pages 231-232,) published by Wright and Potter, Public Document # 44

GOLD STAR– Gold Star List of American Stories, 1881 to 1929

HISTORY OF LIBRARY– 1881 to 1981, a history of the Taft Public Library with photographs, compiled by

E.J. Coleman

HUSTON, SUSAN E.- sermon by Rev. Carlton Staples, commemorative of Mrs. Susan E. Huston, founder

Of the Taft Public Library, delivered in Mendon, August, 1884

HUSTON, SUSAN E.-   Susan Huston’s agreement of conditions needed to establish a library in Mendon.

Attached is Rosa Taft’s deed to the town, 11/7/1919

HUSTON, SUSAN E. Letters from Susan E. Huston to GB Williams, regarding Record Building, 1881

INAUGURATION OF LIBRARY- an address by Rev. Carlton Staples and other proceedings

at the inauguration of the Taft Public Library, 8/17/1881

LIBRARIES– The Three Libraries in the Town of Mendon, by Terry Starrett (Taft Public Library,) Pam

Dee (henry P. Clough School Library,) and Lee Rogers (Nipmuc Regional School,) date unknown

LIBRARY– pamphlet written in 1921, Library Bureau.  “How to Organize a Library” by Zana K. Miller

LIBRARY– notebook with handwritten records of patrons, books taken out and returned


OLD OAKEN BUCKET–  a copy of Samuel Woodworth’s poem, the original donated to Brown University

ROGERS, NORMAN– Poem about the Taft Library, 1981

SOCIAL LIBRARY 1801-1820. Record book stored in archival box

TAFT, WILLIAM PUTNAM– invitation to Mendon Ball, 9/12/1821, with photo of William Putnam Taft,

Half-brother of Susan L. Huston who gave Taft Public Library to Mendon (original invitation and


TOWN CRIER– Taft Library News, 6/3/1999