The Athenaeum’s Charge Book

On December 21, Edgar Allan Poe checked out a book at the Athenaeum titled Stanley: Or, Recollections of a Man of the World by Horace Binney Wallace. Although Poe didn’t personally have a membership with the Athenaeum, he was able to borrow the book using the membership of Thomas Davis. The charge book is now in the special collections of the Providence Athenaeum, where Poe’s signature can be seen next to this transaction.

Along with Poe’s signature, you’ll see Sarah Helen Whitman’s signature numerous times throughout the page. She even checked out the same book that Poe did about two months after their romance came to an abrupt end. It gives us a bit of insight on Helen, and that even though their relationship was over, she still longed to be close to Poe in any way that she could.

The photos here were taken during the “Ravenous: The Enduring Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe” exhibit (February 1 – April 30, 2019) at the Athenaeum. The charge book was on display along with the actual books that Poe and Helen had checked out.

If you’re interested in viewing the charge book yourself, contact the Athenaeum to schedule an appointment. All phone numbers and emails can be found at: