Monday, July 28, 2014

Gilbert H. Doane, Librarian and Monuments Man

The story of the World War II "Monuments Men", a special Army unit created to help recover art treasures looted my the Nazis, has become well known due to the George Clooney film this year. One of the monuments men was Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980), Librarian of the University of Wisconsin - Madison from 1937 to 1956. Doane took a leave of absence in 1943-1945 to serve in what was officially known as the Army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program. Although I knew that Doane had served as Librarian of UW-Madison, I didn't know about the monuments men connection until I did some research as the result of a recently acquired airmail letter postal card  sent to Doane from Mexico in 1940 (see above). The letter was sent by a friend of Doane's with the initials D.P. The friend is an artist and the letter updates Doane on the friend's artistic activities including an upcoming show in San Francisco. Doane left the Army with the rank of Major. When he stepped down from his post as UW Librarian he was ordained as an Episcopal priest, and in 1957 he returned to UW as the University Archivist, a post he held until 1962. There is an excellent post about Doane on the UW Archives blog, and also a great post on the Bibliophemera blog.    

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ohio's Traveling Library Postcards

A wagon loaded with Ohio Traveling Library bookcases
Ladies in the club, Athenians of Bellefontaine, make use of the Ohio Traveling Library
The Ohio State Library operated the largest and longest lasting traveling library program in the United States. Traveling libraries were small rotating collections of books. They were used by state libraries to extend library service beyond public library buildings. They preceded and were alternatives to bookmobiles. The traveling library program of the Ohio State Library started in 1896 and lasted until 1973. The Ohio State Library used postcards to promote its traveling library service. This was a highly innovative use of postcards by a library. Only the American Library Association's Library War Service in World War I made greater use of postcards to promote library service. The use of postcards by the Ohio State Library preceded ALA's use of postcards by more than a decade. The two used postcards in my collection were mailed in 1906 and 1908. I wrote a previous post about Ohio's traveling libraries in schools.

The Sunday School class in Versailles, OH use the Ohio Traveling Library


Saturday, June 21, 2014

WWI Camp Librarians Exchange Postcards

Through the generosity of a fellow collector (thanks Al) I recently acquired a group of 5 postcards which were mailed from ALA Library War Service camp librarians in WWI to the camp library in Camp Funston, KS. All of the postcards were published by the American Library Association and all depicted the camp library of the librarian mailing the card. The cards were from Camp Wheeler, GA; Camp Sevier, SC; Camp Lewis, WA; Camp Dodge, IA; and Camp Greene, NC. The librarian at Camp Funston was George W. Fuller. Three of the cards request a postcard in exchange from Camp Funston. Two just extend "Greetings". The card from Camp Wheeler (shown above) is signed by Frederick Goodell, and says, "May I ask you to send me a view of your library for a libraries exhibit?". ALA published postcards of the exterior of almost all of its camp libraries in the United States, and some postcards of the interiors of camp libraries. I have a collection that includes many of the camp library postcards. These 5 are especially nice since they are used and have a direct connection to the libraries. I have a couple of other postcards in my collection that request an exchange of postcards so I think this was a fairly common thing for camp librarians to do. Most camp librarians took a temporary leave from their regular library job to serve in this capacity. Almost all were ALA members and most continued their career as librarians after serving as a camp librarian. More information about the ALA Library War Service and its postcards can be found HERE.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Harry Clemons, Representative of the ALA War Service in Siberia

On Nov. 6, 1918 Harry Clemons, Professor and Librarian at Nanking University in Nanking, China received the following cable from R.L. Raney, Director of Overseas Library Service for the ALA Library War Service in Washington, DC:
"Will you accept appointment official representative American Library Association Vladivostok to develop library service for American forces in Russia? Books being shipped steadily. Will meet all expenses and guarantee against salary loss. Cable Libcon, Washington." Clemons responded the next day with, "Will attempt library service when you direct. University desires my return by May." Thus began what must be one of the most amazing efforts by a single individual on behalf of the American Library Association. I have written previously about the work of Harry Clemons in Siberia, but recently I became aware of an envelope (shown above) mailed by Clemons shortly after his arrival in Vladivostok. This prompted me to do another post. One of the specialties in philately is the collection and study of military postal history. Examples of envelopes mailed by men in the American forces in Siberia during World War I are among the scarcest and most sought after by collectors. The envelope above may be the only envelope mailed by Clemons as ALA's representative in existence in private hands. It is part of the collection of Al Kugel, one of the world's most respected military postal historians. I appreciate his letting me use the image of the envelope in this post. Clemons mailed many letters to the American Library Association while in Siberia and they were compiled in a book titled appropriately The A.L.A. in Siberia. A copy of the book can be found on the Hathi Trust site. In the foreword to the book H. B. Van Hoesen who edited the book noted that Clemon's report on his work to the Commanding General "shows the activity as well as the activities of the A.L.A. Library War Service in Siberia; how in five months, one man was able to handle some ten thousand volumes (plus 10 boxes, 194 parcels, 75 mail sacks, not counting discarded magazines), unpacking censoring, sorting, cataloguing, and repacking; to distribute and organize these into a system of over fifty branches scattered all the way from the Yangtse Valley to no one knows how far towards the German frontier (not to mention gift distribution); and at the same time to act as reference department and superintendent of no inconsiderable circulation; and, on top of all this, to produce, in slow longhand manuscript, and in spite of obstacles like frozen ink, etc., a series of reports of real historical value among the chief literary "by-products" of the Library War Service." The compilation of Clemons letters was distributed to all the attendees of the 1919 ALA Conference in Asbury Park, NJ. After his service in Siberia Clemons returned to Nanking University where he worked until 1927. He then became Librarian of the University of Virginia Library in Charlottesville,VA where he worked until his retirement in 1950. Clemons is included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Nominee for Oldest Overdue Notice

While collecting postal librariana I have managed to acquire many examples of one of the most common forms of library communication - the overdue library materials notice. I've written previously about my large collection of overdue notices on postal cards. I've also written about the oldest overdue notice in my collection. Recently I acquired a much older overdue notice. It is shown above and it was mailed on Jan. 7, 1832 by Sir P. Dun's Library in Dublin, Ireland. The Librarian was Thomas Herbert Orpen and he courteously ends the overdue message with " I am your obedient Servant". The library was part of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital whose building is shown at the top of the overdue notice. Sir Patrick Dun (1642-1712) was a prominent Irish physician who left an endowment in his will that resulted in the establishment the hospital in 1800. The hospital ceased operation in 1986. Dun also built an extensive personal medical library that is now part of the Royal College of Physicians Library in London which also houses the archives for the hospital. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

NC School Library Offers Public Memberships in 1912

Postal librariana related to school libraries is difficult to find so I was delighted when I found a 1912 hand written flyer (see above) mailed by the Warrenton (NC) High School Librarian to members of the Warrenton community. The Librarian W. A. Naham extols the resources of the high school library and then offers to make the library available to non-students for an annual fee of $1. A sign up card was enclosed. He/she ends with: "This is better than borrowing from your neighbors, cheaper than purchasing for yourself, and the wise thing to do. Sign it now." Today Warren County Schools has two high schools in Warrenton. No information on their website about their libraries.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

University Club Library Postal Card 1900

According to its website the University Club is "New York’s premier social club offering unparalleled services to members - from gracious dining, luxurious accommodations and a variety of social events, to extensive athletic facilities and the world’s largest and finest club library." The club received its charter in 1864, but its roots date back to 1861. It's current building located at West 54th Street at 5th Avenue was completed in 1899 and includes an incredibly beautiful library. The postal card above which was mailed by the library on Sept. 26, 1900 is a recent addition to my postal librariana collection. The Librarian W. H. Duncan, Jr. is responding to a request from one of the club's members. Duncan had just become librarian after serving as a branch librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Colorado Library to Library Postcard

As I have noted in other posts I collect envelopes and other postal items that have been sent to or from a library. I especially like finding items that have been sent from one library to another. The postcard above fits into that category and it has the added distinction of being a picture postcard depicting a library. The postcard is part of the Phoebe Hayes library postcard collection that I wrote about in the previous post. In the message on the postcard the Documents Librarian at the Charles Leaming Tutt Library of Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO is letting the Documents Processing Librarian at the Denver Public Library know that she has mailed some documents requested from an exchange list and that the postage to be reimbursed will be 31 cents. The postcard was mailed on March 31, 1967. The Tutt Library is depicted on the front of the postcard. Although, government issued pre-paid postal cards are often used to conduct library business, it is rare to see this occur on a picture postcard.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Library Postcard Collection of Phoebe Hayes (1905-1975)

At a postcard show in Madison, WI this past weekend I acquired a collection of 30 library postcards that were at one time part of a collection owned by Phoebe Hayes, a librarian who ended her library career around 1970 as Director of the Bibliographical Center for Research in Denver, CO. The postcards that I acquired have all been used and for the most part are addressed to Hayes or one of the libraries where she worked. They date from 1930 to 1970 and have a variety of messages mostly with a library connection. I particularly prize these kinds of postcards. I was able to cross check Hayes' entry in the 1970 edition of A Biographical Directory of Librarians in the United States and Canada published by ALA with the postcard addresses. Her education and library work included the Univ. of Wisconsin, the University of Chicago, the Univ. of Denver, the Joint Reference Library in Chicago, and the Library of the Bureau of the Budget in DC in addition to the BCR in Denver.  It is apparent that her colleagues knew of her interest in library postcards and shared postcards with her that they found or received. The postcard above was sent to Hayes in Chicago (where she was a student) from a friend in Boulder, CO on June 18, 1941. The postcard depicts the Library of the University of Colorado. The message begins with "Another 'library' for your collection." I'll probably share some other postcards from her collection in the future. I've compiled lists of current and former library postcard collectors that I know about. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

George Lincoln Burr (1857-1938) and the White Library at Cornell

I'm a collector of envelopes (called covers by philatelists) that have been sent to or from libraries. I believe that I have the largest collection of these envelopes in the world. My collection numbers in the thousands. I'm always on the lookout for envelopes that have a special story so I was excited to acquire the envelope shown above. It was mailed to Professor George L. Burr at the President White Library at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY on April 25, 1911. Andrew Dickson White was the co-founder and first president of Cornell University. White, with the assistance of Burr, developed a remarkable personal historical library consisting of more than 30,000 volumes which he donated to the Cornell University Library. Burr served as the librarian/curator of the White collection and Professor of History at Cornell. He was an authority on the witchcraft trials and was editor of Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706. He was President of the American Historical Association in 1916. The envelope is interesting in that it was a souvenir for the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY but was mailed from Buffalo in 1911. It is marked "Personal". I'm putting together a philatelic exhibit titled "Libraries in 20th Century America" and this envelope will make a nice addition to the exhibit.