This week is Banned Books Week, a time that libraries take a look at which books have been challenged and by whom. Since 1982, about 11,300 books have been challenged for content that some consider to be offensive - content that includes sex, drug use, homosexuality, politics and offensive language. Here is a list of contemporary books that are challenged; readers can find many in our network.
This year TCPL is kicking it old school - remembering a time in which Boston was known for banning not only books but also songs, plays and movies. Founded by Puritans, Boston has a long history of censoring books, which began in the 1600s. As other morally conservative immigrants came to Boston, primarily the Irish, who began arriving in the 1820s, the practice of banning books continued. But the actual phrase "banned in Boston" originated in the late 19th century when American moral crusader Anthony Comstock began a campaign to suppress vice. The phrase “banned in Boston” became known nationwide to mean anything that was lurid or “naughty.” Boston began to be thought of as not as sophisticated as other cities that didn’t practice widespread banning, which now extended to music and film. (“Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers was banned here as well.)
As the practice of banning died down in the late 1960s, Boston began to have a more liberal reputation. The books in this display (which can be found on the second floor of the main library) are some of the works that Boston banned from the 1880s to the 1960s. Check one out and ask yourself, would this be considered “naughty” today?