Maria F. Davenport was our first city librarian.
Maria Fisher was born in 1826 in Canton, Massachusetts. In 1853 she married Edward W. Davenport.
By 1866 the couple were living in Council Bluffs. Edward was working as an insurance agent. Over the years Edward held several jobs; insurance agent, real estate agent, stock dealer, traveling agent, and reporter.
In March 1869 their daughter Mary was born.
In 1878 Maria became the librarian for the first public library in Council Bluffs. This library was a subscription library and patrons had to pay $1.00 a year to check out books. Mrs. Davenport used the Dewey decimal system to organize the collection.
Council Bluffs formed a Free Public Library in 1882. The library was located above a store front at 12 Main Street. Mrs. Davenport was hired as city librarian.
Sometime in the mid-1880s Maria and Edward were no longer living in the same household. Edward was living at the Kiel Hotel. Maria and Mary were living at 627 1st Avenue. Mary was now a teacher at Bloomer School.
In 1889 the library moved to larger rooms in the Merriam Block, which was located at the corner of Willow and Pearl.
After 12 years on the job Mrs. Davenport resigned from her librarian position in November of 1894. The Nonpareil reported that “Mrs. Davenport had intended giving up the duties of her position over a year ago but had been detained from doing so by a desire to see the new catalogue in a state of completion.”
Shortly after retiring Maria and her daughter moved back east to Boston. Maria enjoyed retirement while Mary taught at the Girl’s Latin School.
Maria F Davenport died on December 5, 1907 in Boston, MA. She is buried in Locust Hill Cemetery in Mendon, MA.