Salem has been a destination since 1626​

Founded in 1626, Salem is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Our city draws people from all over the world who are interested in its historic past, from the great age of sail and spectacular architecture to the literary haunts of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the infamous witch trials. That’s why tourists, researchers, and locals expect Salem’s history to be here. 

In the beginning, Salem encompassed most of the North Shore. Today, it's a vibrant city within eight square miles. Towns that were created from the original Salem formed their own historical societies and archival collections. Salem did not because it already had a library that had been functioning in that role for essentially 200 years. As the county seat, Salemthrough the Essex Institute (and Essex Historical Society)collected materials for Essex County as well.

Why does it matter? With the Phillips Library collections returned to its original and rightful home, the city can expect:


  • Increase in revenue from exhibits, talks, publications, multimedia presentations, and other programming events that highlight unique items in the collection—such as the 1692 Salem witch trials papers, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works, Samuel McIntire's drawings, and Frank Cousins’ photographs—will help local businesses year-round.

  • Access to research materials will draw researchers to Salem to use its world-renowned library and archives, benefiting all types of scholarship.

  • Provide educational and informational insights and historical perspectives to a wide variety of individuals, from local residents, teachers, and students to tourists and casual visitors.

  • Access to genealogical materials will help people make connections between their family history and the world around them.

  • Increase in sense of community and creativity. Since many people consider the Phillips Library collections to represent the historic identity of Salem, returning them will bring a sense of renewal, purpose, and appreciation of the city, its past, and its future.


Hidden in Rowley


While we hope the move is temporary, we strongly urge you to use the Rowley facilities to show your interest and support for the Phillips Library collections. From previous experience with Phillips Library closures, we anticipate the Peabody Essex Museum will not promote its world-class library and archives. Located miles away from its museum campus, the Collection Center was created as off-site storage, not exactly for welcoming researchers and encouraging the active use of its collections.


The Collection Center is about 40 minutes from PEM and Salem, and not accessible by public transportation. (The train depot is 4 miles away and Rowley does not have taxi or bus service.) It is located at 306 Newburyport Turnpike in Rowley, Massachusetts.

© 2019 Friends of Salem's Phillips Library

This site is not affiliated with the Peabody Essex Museum