home > reference & research > special collections > james hosmer Dr. James Kendall Hosmer (1834-1927) James K. Hosmer (M3979a)

"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 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 Anticoh College, the University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Hosmer wrote extensively as a historian througout 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. The Hosmer library, built in 1916, was named in his honor. The Special Collections department was named in his honor in 2004.

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