Fitch Poole, 1803 - 1873

Fitch Poole

Fitch Poole was the first Librarian of the Peabody Institute Library. Though he received little more than an ordinary education of the day, he went on to be considered by Oliver Wendell Holmes "the most genuine humorist in New England."

Fitch Poole followed in his family's leather business and after his apprenticeship formed a partnership with Warren Jacobs. He married Mary Ann Poor in 1824 and they went on to have nine children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. However, their oldest, William, after attending Harvard Medical School, contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 21.

He worked with George Carleton on The Danvers Courier from 1845 to 1848 and was the editor of the South Danvers Wizard from 1859 until 1868. In these pages appeared his many humorous essays, poems and epic narratives. They included Giles Corey's Dream, The Old Bell Tavern, The Librarian's Epitaph and A Large Gobbler. Many of the essays published, such as Peace Proposition, highlighted his Whig and Abolitionist sentiments. Others, such as Awful Calamity. Entire Destruction of Railroad! mocked the political tribulations encountered in South Danvers.

His interest in literature extended beyond his writings, though. Along with John C. Lunt, William H. Little, Elijah W. Upton and John Whitney, Fitch Poole founded the Danvers Mechanic's Institute in 1841. Part Lyceum, part Library, the Danvers Mechanic's Institute was the precursor for what became the Peabody Institute Library. While membership for the Danvers Mechanic Institute was based on subscription, it brought to the town such speakers as Daniel King, Horace Mann, Theodore Parker, Rufus Choate, Charles Sumner and Frederick Douglass. It was disbanded in 1855 after the Peabody Institute opened. Many of the books which the Mechanic Institute had owned were donated to the Peabody Institute.

He remained Librarian until his death in 1873.