Thursday, June 10, 2010

William F. Poole,"The Harvard Book", and the ALA Scrapbook of 1876

The government issued postal card featured in this post has multiple points of interest for a collector of postal librariana and library history buff. Postal cards in contrast to picture postcards are more closely connected to the actual work of libraries. They were instantly adopted as important tools in the conduct of library business when they came into existence in the United States in 1873. A previous post discussed one of the earlier uses of the postal card as an overdue notice. The writer and sender of this postal card was William F. Poole who at the time was the Librarian of the Chicago Public Library. Poole who sent the card on June 24, 1876 to H. A. Clark in Cambridge, MA was writing to Clark in regard to the publication The Harvard Book of which Clark was a co-author. Poole writes: "I have received several circulars calling my attention to the 'Harvard Book'. I beg to state that we have a copy of this very eloquent and entertaining book, which we bought of a party here in Chicago." Is the point of the message to praise the book or hint that Clark can stop sending any more circulars? Poole was a formidable figure during this period of library history, and was active at this very point in helping to plan the conference which took place in October 1876 where the American Library Association was formed. Library historian Edward G. Holley wrote about the correspondence which took place between library leaders including Poole and Melvil Dewey who were planning the conference in the book Raking The Historic Coals: The A.L.A. Scrapbook of 1876 (Beta Phi Mu, 1967). The scrapbook which contained both letters and postal cards covered the period May 1876 through October 1876. Unfortunately, this important artifact in American Library Association history appears to be missing, perhaps even inavertedly discarded at some point after Holley wrote his book. Fortunately the scrapbook was microfilmed and is available at the ALA Archives. I have a special interest in the scrapbook because it probably contained the first collection of postal librariana. William F. Poole was the creator of the publication Poole's Index to Periodical Literature and served as President of the American Library Association 1885-1886. As to The Harvard Book, images from this "eloquent and entertaining book" can be found HERE. The images include photographs of Gore Hall, the home of the Harvard Library which opened in 1841 and early librarian John Langdon Sibley.

1 comment:

Barbara Poole said...

Hi, I thought you might be interested in my blog piece of today in which I transcribed the obituary of my 2nd great-father, William F. Poole. Feel free to copy or link to your page. In addition, I have additional information. Thank you.