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The Fred S. Piper Collection

The Fred S. Piper Collection:

books by and about Henry David Thoreau

About the Piper Collection:

The Piper Collection consists of two main components: 

  1. A cataloged collection of more than 300 published books and bibliographies by, about, or related to 19th century American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).
  2. A collection of uncataloged materials that include monographs and bibliographies about Thoreau, as well as correspondence, periodicals, clippings, images, and ephemera.  A small subset of the material is focused on the life of Thoreau’s English biographer Henry S. Salt (1851-1939).  

The collection was donated to Cary Memorial Library in 1961 by Dr. Piper (1867-1962), a Lexington resident, physician, and Thoreau enthusiast. The library continued to add material to the collection until the year 2000. 

About Dr. Fred S. Piper

Dr. Fred S. PiperDr. Fred S. Piper (1867-1962), was a native of rural New Hampshire and a long-time resident of Lexington, Massachusetts.  He worked briefly as a public school teacher and pharmacist before entering the Boston University School of Medicine in 1887. In 1897 he moved his family medical practice from Hillsboro, New Hampshire, to Lexington.  His familiarity with medicinal herbs broadened into a lifelong, avid interest in botany, which led him to study plants at home and abroad and to keep a record of more than 300 wildflowers.  He admired the distinguished botanist Asa Gray, whose Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States had encouraged Henry David Thoreau’s interest in botany.  

Dr. Piper was active in several Lexington organizations and committees: 

  • Member. Lexington School Committee, 1902.
  • President, Lexington Historical Society, 1909-1910.
  • Member, committee for the revision of the Bi-Centenary Edition (1913) of Charles Hudson’s History of the Town of Lexington. 
  • President, Lexington Field and Garden Club, 1917-1918.

In addition, Dr. Piper was the first Vice President of the Thoreau Society, an international society based in Concord, Massachusetts, dedicated to the life, writing, and legacy of Henry David Thoreau. He was elected in 1942, one year after the society’s founding.

For more information about Dr. Piper, please refer to Piper Collection Finding Aid [PDF]. To see a list of books in the Piper Collection, please refer to Piper Collection books [PDF], or browse the Minuteman catalog for Piper materials.