Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dewey and Lake Placid


Melvil Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 in Adams Center, New York. I thought I would acknowledge his birthday today with a post about Dewey and his Lake Placid organizations. Dewey who is considered by many to be the father of American librarianship is most noted for his decimal classification system which is still used by thousands of libraries. Dewey was also controversial because of his complex relationship with women and accusations of anti-Semitism. The stock certificate above is for the Lake Placid Company which was a sister organization to the Lake Placid Club. Dewey was the founder of both entities. The stock certificate is for fourteen shares issued to the Lake Placid Club Education Foundation, another Dewey enterprise established in 1922. After leaving the New York State Library under a cloud in 1905, Dewey devoted all of his energy to the Lake Placid trilogy of organizations. Wayne A. Wiegand has a very interesting chapter in his book Irrepressible Reformer, A Biography of Melvil Dewey (ALA, 1996) about Dewey's Lake Placid years. I have written a previous post about Katharine Sharp, a Dewey protégé, and the Lake Placid Club. It was the admission policies of the Lake Placid Club which excluded Jews which led to the justifiable anti-Semitism charges against Dewey.

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