Collections > Master's Papers > School of Information and Library Science > "Voices on the Third Floor": The Literary Society Libraries of Miami University, 1825-1873
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Nineteenth century American colleges and universities placed heavy restrictions on their students. Students' academic work was rigidly laid out for them, and college administrators did not feel that students required access to books outside of the textbooks they used in their courses. Thus, undergraduate students were barred from most academic libraries. The students themselves began to form literary societies in order to expand upon their college educations; these societies focused on debating and speech making, skills students did not learn in their coursework. Often the literary societies founded their own libraries, giving student members access both to texts that supplemented their collegiate learning and to modern texts for their extracurricular enjoyment. This paper looks at the history of the literary societies at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio-the Erodelphian Literary Society and the Miami Union Literary Society-and the libraries they founded, between 1825 and 1873.