Friday, March 30, 2012

Deaderick and Rothrock, Uncommon Women

Both Rothrock and Deaderick were directors of this library.
Looking back over my library career I feel fortunate to have met and come to know many exceptional library people. Since this is Women's History Month I thought I would close it with a post about a couple of those exceptional people who happen to be women. After I was released in 1969 from a military obligation that had interrupted my library career, I managed to land a job as Director of the Clinch-Powell Regional Library System located in East Tennessee.   The library system consisted of six rural counties in Appalachia and I was the only public librarian with a library degree in the six counties. Feeling a little isolated I sought out connections with librarians in the nearby Knoxville urban area. It was through this effort that I met Lucile Deaderick (1914-2006) who had recently taken the position of Director of the Knox County Public Library. Tennessee had twelve multi-county regional library systems and four metropolitan county library systems. The directors of all of these library systems met quarterly with the state library staff in Nashville. For one of those meetings Lucile invited me to ride with her and a friend. The friend turned out to be Mary Utopia Rothrock (1890-1976), a pioneer in rural public library development and former Librarian for the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Rothrock was also a former President of the American Library Association (1946-47). While Lucile and I were in meetings Rothrock conducted research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. This trip was a memorable one for a young librarian embarking on a library career. Thinking about that trip I did some online searching and came across an online article about Lucile Deaderick in Metro Pulse written by Jack Neely shortly after her death in 2006. Neely used the phrase "An Uncommon Life" in the title of his article about Deaderick.  In addition to a varied library career which included a stint as editor of the A.L.A. Bulletin, Deaderick and a friend operated a small farm for a number of years. Read Neely's article to learn more about her "uncommon life". Both Deaderick and Rothrock were strong individuals who chartered their own courses. Both were also historians which makes their story even more appropriate for Women's History Month.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yale University Library and World War I

One of the biggest challenges faced by historians is the absence or loss of historical records which in many instances have been deliberately disposed of. The historian's best friends are those individuals who have the vision to acquire and preserve records that document important historical events. John Christopher Schwab, Yale University Librarian 1905-1916, was one such individual. In the early stages of World War I when the United States was still neutral, Schwab and the Yale University Library, as documented in the letter and circular above, aggressively sought to collect "the ephemeral publications on every phase of the present war which appear as well in the neutral as in the belligerent countries." The two items are in my collection along with the envelope in which they were contained addressed to a Yale alumnus in Natal, South Africa and mailed on May 1, 1915. It's difficult to determine where the materials collected by Yale in this effort are currently located, but Yale does have an extensive portal to its World War I resources on its website.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Birthdays for Former Library Leaders

Envelope mailed by Charles A. Cutter on Oct. 20, 1896
Below I have listed the significant birthdays in March for former American library leaders. All are included in the Dictionary of American Library Biography (Libraries Unlimited, 1978) or the 1990 Supplement.

Thomas Lynch Montgomery (1862-1929), 150th anniversary of birth on March 4. Served as State Librarian of Pennsylvania (1903-1921) and Librarian of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1921-1929).

Henry Augustus Homes (1812-1887), 200th anniversary of birth on March 10. Served as Supervisor of the General Library of New York State Library from 1862 to 1887. He was one of the three original Vice-Presidents of the American Library Association following its establishment in 1876.

Charles Ammi Cutter (1837-1903), 175th anniversary of birth on March 14. Served as Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum (1869-1893) and Librarian of the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA (1894-1903). He was a founding member of the American Library Association and served as President in 1887-1889. He is noted for his contribution to cataloging and classification in libraries. He was a contemporary and sometimes rival of Melvil Dewey.

James Bertram (1872-1934), 140th anniversary of birth on March 17. Bertram was Secretary to Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1897 to 1934. He played a major role in the distribution of Carnegie grants for library buildings in the United States and other Carnegie Corporation projects.

Nathan Van Patten (1887-1956), 125th anniversary of birth on March 24. Served as Librarian of Stanford University Libraries (1927-1947).

Guy Elwood Marion (1882-1969), 130th anniversary of birth on March 25. Served as librarian for several special libraries. He was a charter member of the Special Libraries Association and served it in several capacities including President in 1919.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Good Pleasant Job on the S.S. Washington, 1921

As I've mentioned on earlier posts, I like used postcards and I look for interesting messages on the cards. The postcard above has a picture of the harbor in Cherbourg, France. It was mailed by sea post from the S. S. Washington on September 11, 1921. The message reads: "Have a vacation job on "S.S. Washington" as librarian. Good, pleasant job. Have arranged library of 2,000 books alphabetically." It is signed C. Begemann. It appears to be sent by a student or former student to a teacher at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, NJ. The S.S. Washington mentioned in the postcard is actually the S.S. George Washington which was a German built ship seized by the U.S. during World War I. According to a Wikipedia article the ship was reconditioned for passenger service in 1920. Libraries seem to be pretty standard on passenger/cruise ships. My wife and I took a cruise on the ship Pride of America in Hawaii recently and it had a great library (see below). I think being librarian for that ship's library would also be a "good pleasant job".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Library War Service Map Poster, 1918

I'm working on an exhibit of my ALA WWI Library War Service memorabilia in one of Wisconsin's public libraries for April. I've exhibited this collection on one previous occasion. I've added a very nice item for the upcoming exhibit. It is a poster of a map of the United States (see above) which documents the extent of ALA's Library War Service. It proclaims, "Every Dot on the Map Means a Special War Library for Our Fighting Men". A larger square dot indicates camps with libraries, and a smaller round dot indicates libraries in other buildings. It includes an impressive list of statistics for the Library War Service. They include: 41 camp library buildings in operation; 143 hospitals and Red Cross houses supplied; 243 librarians maintained in the Service; 315 small military camps and posts supplied with books; 600,000 books purchased; 1,030,458 books shipped overseas; and 5,000,000 gift magazines distributed. One of the purposes of the poster is to promote the United War Work Campaign during the week of November 11, 1918 in which ALA actively participated. The poster is 20" x 25" and was probably distributed widely to libraries among other entities. The paper which it is printed on is not the best, and I feel fortunate to have a surviving copy. It is the only one I've seen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Birds in the Boston Athenaeum, 1900

It's not often you find a letter that begins, "I was just chasing & trying to catch three sparrows that flew into the Reading Room ...." The letter was written on November 11, 1900 by a Harvard student working in the Boston Athenaeum. The student was Edwin DeTurck Bechtel (1880-1957) who later became an attorney and an authority on roses. The letter is a personal letter written on Boston Athenaeum letterhead to Bechtel's family in South Evansville, PA. The first paragraph of Bechtel's letter continues, "I overheated myself, but did not get the birds, and they are now sitting on a molding near the ceiling poking fun at me." A nice addition to my postal librariana collection.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

UC Berkeley Library Celebration

The Doe Library of the University of California Berkeley Library is celebrating its centennial with a variety of activities tomorrow (March 21). I thought I would pay tribute to this event by featuring a couple of vintage envelopes from my postal librariana collection.  When the first envelope above was mailed by the Berkeley Library on October 9, 1888, the library had been in operation for 19 years. It's initial collection consisted of 1,036 books which were donated by the College of California. The envelope is addressed to C. R. (Charles Russell) Orcutt, a famous California horticulturist. The second envelope above was mailed by the Bancroft Library on October 29, 1891. The Bancroft Library was the personal library of Hubert Howe Bancroft which focused on the history of California and the West. The Bancroft Library which included 60,000 bound volumes and 10,000 manuscript items became part of the UC Berkeley Library in 1905. There is a nice chronology of the UC Berkeley Library's history on its website. Happy birthday Doe Library!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Bicentennial American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, MA is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The AAS is an independent research library that focuses on the history of our country from 1640 to 1876.  The gift acknowledgement shown above was signed by AAS Librarian Clarence S. Brigham on October 9, 1924. Brigham became Librarian in 1908 and retired in 1959 after 51 years in that capacity. He transformed the library into one of the preeminent historical institutions in the United States. A postcard of the AAS building is shown below. It was built in 1908. A brief history of the AAS is located HERE.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First Separate Academic Library Buildings in US

The first library building built solely to serve as a library was at the University of South Carolina in 1840. It is shown on the postcard to the left. Academic libraries prior to this time were located in campus buildings that served multiple purposes. My source for this information is Kenneth E. Carpenter's book The First 350 Years of the Harvard University Library (Harvard University Library, 1986). According to Carpenter, Gore Hall, built at Harvard in 1841, was a close second. Carpenter also points out that although the University of Virginia built a library in 1825 it was put to a variety of uses. The University of South Carolina building is still used as a library. It houses the South Caroliniana Library. Gore Hall at Harvard is shown on the postcard below. Carpenter notes that to decrease the risk of fire Gore Hall only had a small furnace and users and staff had to wear hats and coats in the winter. Gore Hall was replaced by the Widener Library building in 1915 on the same site.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Advertisement for Johnston's Library Outfit

I'm one of the bloggers for the Philatelic Literature & Research Blog of the American Philatelic Research Library and earlier today I posted an item that is also relevant to this blog. It concerns an advertising postcard (shown here) that is an advertisement for Snow White products for libraries manufactured by the J. W. Johnston Company of Rochester, NY. It is addressed to the Bath Free Public Library in Bath, NH, and is franked with a Rochester NY precanceled postage stamp. On the back of the card is an elaborate advertisement for "Johnston's Library Outfit". What prompted me to do an article for the Philatelic Literature & Research Blog was an article in the March issue of the American Philatelist about the National Recovery Administration (NRA), a Depression era program that promoted fair competition practices for businesses, and its logo. Charles A. Fricke, the author of the article, had several items in his postal card collection with the logo of the NRA. It reminded me of the J. W. Johnston Company postcard in my collection which also has a label with the NRA logo. A little investigation found that J. W. Johnston was John White Johnston who turns out to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. In addition to inventing a white ink that could be used to mark books and photo albums, he was a historical researcher and publisher with an emphasis on Gettysburg in the Civil War, and a musician who founded a Scottish pipe band. Johnston founded his company in 1915 to manufacture his white ink invention. It's nice to come across a postal artifact that has a story that applies to two of my blogs.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Janice Kee and a Librarian's Travelogue, Another Story for Women's History Month

Janice Kee at the WI
Library Commission
Sarah Janice Kee (1908-1998) was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame in 2009 primarily because of her work as Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission (WFLC) from 1956 to 1965. During Kee's tenure at the Commission, Wisconsin established the foundation for its current seventeen federated public library systems. In seeking to find out more about Kee a number of years ago, I was able to obtain a copy of a travelogue written by Kee titled Around the World in 80 Years: A Travelogue Interspersed with Anecdotes (unpublished, 1997). As the title suggests it is a record of Kee's travels around the world during her lifetime, but it also chronicles a remarkable library career. Kee was a native Texan and ended her library career in Texas. In regard to her travels, Kee writes: "It has been my privilege to see much of the world in my life time. My methods of travel have been in a swing seat in a covered wagon, a buggy, surrey, the back seat of a Model T - Ford car, both slow and fast trains, the driver's seat in a Ford, Chevrolet, Frazier and Oldsmobile, both slow and fast airplanes and a Cruiser in the Mediterranean sea." From her rural Texas roots, Kee embarked on a library career with her first library position in the Library Service of the Air Force during World War II. She did so well that she was eventually promoted to Command Librarian supervising 35 post libraries. She went to work for the Missouri State Library in 1947, and again did so well that she was designated Acting State Librarian when State Librarian Katherine Mier retired in 1948. Unfortunately, it was only "until a man could be found for the job". According to Kee the man they found "knew nothing - I mean nothing about State Library work". Lucky for Wisconsin she left Missouri and came to Wisconsin for her first stint at the WFLC. She entered the national library arena in 1952 as Executive Secretary of the Public Library Division of the American Library Association, a position she held until she assumed leadership of the WFLC in 1956. Kee concluded her library career as Library Program Officer (classified as a GS-14) with the U.S. Department of Education at the regional office in Dallas, Texas. At her interview for the position in Dallas with the Head of the Regional Office, according to Kee "a political appointee - one of those good-ol-boys who was retired from a Superintendent's position", she was told "'Miss Kee, do you realize I have MEN on my staff who are not GS-14s?'" She reminded him that she would be taking a pay cut if she took the job. She got the job anyway. Although Janice Kee wrote her travelogue primarily for her family, I feel fortunate to have shared via the travelogue in her travel and library career experiences. I wish more people could do the same. The original manuscript is located at the School of Library and Information Studies at Texan Woman's University where Kee got her MLS and established the S. Janice Kee Library Scholarship Fund.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

American Library in Paris Librariana

We are fast approaching the 95th anniversary of America's entry into World War I (April 6, 1917) which led to the creation of the Library War Service of the American Library Association (ALA) a few months later. One of the legacies of the Library War Service was the creation of the American Library in Paris (ALP). I recently added a couple of items to my librariana collection related to the ALP. The first is a postcard showing the home of the ALP at 10 Rue de L'Elysee. The postcard was obviously produced by ALA and includes information on ALA's role in WWI as well as information about the ALP. It notes that the objectives of the ALP are: "1) To serve as a memorial to the A. E. F. [American Expeditionary Force]; 2) To become a center of information about America; 3)To supplement the limited supply of American books available in other European libraries."  The postcard also indicates that an international library school is conducted by ALA in the same building as the ALP. The postcard which is unused was probably published in the early 1920s. The second item I have added is a 1936 newspaper (Chicago Tribune) photograph which documents the preparations for a move of the ALP to a new location at 9 rue de Teheran in Paris. It depicts ALP Librarian Dorothy Reeder, President of the ALP Joseph Du Vivier (seated), and First Vice-President Countess Clara Longworth (standing in the doorway). Both Reeder and Longworth played important, if not heroic, roles in the ALP's continued operation during World War II while Paris was occupied by Germany.  There is a good history of the ALP on its website.  Mary Niles Maack has written an excellent article about the American Library in Paris during the period 1939-1945 which contains more information about Reeder's service at the library. I have previous posts about the ALP HERE and HERE.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lutie Stearns and the Woman's Congress at Tower Hill, WI

To help celebrate Women's History Month I thought I would post a story about Lutie Stearns, one of Wisconsin's greatest library pioneers. As often happens, a piece of postal librariana was the stimulus for my engaging in some library history research. I was delighted when I researched a picture postcard depicting the Ann Mitchell Library at Tower Hill, Wisconsin (shown above) to find that there was a link between Tower Hill and Lutie Stearns. Tower Hill is now the Tower Hill State Park, but was originally the summer retreat of Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a prominent Unitarian minister. As is explained in the first issue of La Follette's Weekly Magazine (January 9, 1909), Jones sponsored an annual Woman's Congress at Tower Hill. The guests at the Woman's Congress were limited to twenty-five invited individuals, and the speakers and topics for the Congress were selected by a committee which Lutie Stearns chaired for several years. Stearns at the time was on the staff of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which she helped to found in 1891. In addition to her advocacy for free public libraries and traveling libraries, Stearns was an outspoken advocate for women and their role in society. Library Journal (October, 1916) reported on on a Library Congress held at Tower Hill in August of 1916. This Congress was also chaired by Lutie Stearns. Librarians from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and North Dakota participated in this informal gathering to discuss library issues and to relax. It is in that Library Journal article which was written by Stearns that mention is made of the Ann Mitchell Library.  It notes that: "The afternoons during the week were given over to informal conferences and visits to the Ann Mitchell Library building on the Tower Hill grounds, which was found to be well supplied with the classics as well as the better part of latter-day literature." I have been unable to determine the identity of Ann Mitchell. Jones was a promoter of women in the ministry so perhaps she was a minister. The library and the building that housed it no longer exist. I also have a blog post about Lutie's speech impediment and her proposal for a book wagon. I highly recommend a book about Lutie for young people titled Books in a Box.