Portion of a panoramic photograph of those attending the 1919 American Library Association conference in Asbury Park, N.J. The photograph which was taken in front of the New Monterey Hotel shows a number of men in military uniforms. The photograph is in the digital image collection of the Library of Congress.
I've been trying to recognize significant birth anniversaries for some of our prominent librarians of the past on this blog, but I recently missed the 125th anniversary of the birth of Lawrence Counselman Wroth (1884-1970) who was born on January 14, 1884. I am able to identify these individuals by using the Dictionary of American Biography and its supplements. Althought noteworthy for other contributions, I was struck by the fact that Wroth interrupted his library career by volunteering for military service after the declaration of war by America in 1917. Wroth may appear in the photograph above. I have previously discussed the War Library Service of the American Library Association where numerous librarians both men and women volunteered to serve in a civilian capacity in the war, but it is more unusual to find a librarian who actually served in the military during World War I. Wroth actually saw service in France and was promoted from private to first lieutenant. Prior to joining the military, Wroth was assistant librarian of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. He was appointed librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1923 where he served until 1957. According to Jeannetter D. Black, the author of Wroth's entry in the Dictionary of American Library Biography, he was frequently called the dean of American bibliographers. He was the author of a large number of scholarly books and articles, many according to Black, classics in their fields.