Running head: MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Melvil Dewey in 1876: Three Ideas That Changed American Librarianship
Allison Barr
San Jose State University
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Abstract
This paper examines the accomplishments made by Melvil Dewey in the year 1876. At only 25
year old, Dewey helped found the American Library Association, founded The Library Journal,
and created the Dewey Decimal Classification system. All three are still in use today. This paper
describes his upbringing and time spent before 1876. As well, the controversy surrounding who
truly invented the DDC is scrutinized. While Dewey may have been influenced by multiple
contemporary scholars and librarians, most historians have concluded that he did not take the
idea from any person. The paper concludes that although Dewey was sometimes a
controversial figure, his achievements in 1876 were remarkable.
2
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
In this paper, the life of Melvil Dewey and his early accomplishments are examined.
Although throughout his life, Dewey contributed countless ideas to the profession of
librarianship (including a driving force behind the professionalization of the occupation), this
paper focuses on his achievements made during the year of 1876. In 1876, at only 25 years old,
Dewey helped found the American Library Association, the long running periodical The Library
Journal, and also published and patented his most famous idea: the Dewey Decimal System of
Classification. Almost all historical articles or books published on Melvil Dewey’s life have been
large overviews that mention these events in passing. The difficulty with these biographies is
that Dewey accomplished a great deal during his lifetime, as well as being embroiled in several
scandals. Later in his life, Dewey was publically disgraced and rightfully denounced as a racist
after he refused membership into his Lake Placid Club to the Jewish elite of New York. There
was too much information to give his achievements of 1876 the full attention they deserved. All
three of his ideas from that year are still in use in 2013, in one form or another. The latest
edition of the Dewey Decimal System was released in 2011 and is used in at least 135 countries
worldwide. The Library Journal is still in publication, and the ALA is both the oldest and the
largest Library Association in the world with 62,000 members (Brichford, 1991). His life up until
1876 and his three major successes of that year are examined. This paper differs from the
previous biographies and articles on Dewey by examining a small time period in depth and how
the three achievements were intertwined.
The first full length biography of Dewey was published in 1932, one year after his death
at the Lake Placid Club in Florida. Melvil Dewey: Seer, Inspirer, Doer, 1851-1931, written by
George Grosvenor Dawe was a typical authorized biography for the time period: lengthy and
3
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
biased. The bulk of the book was devoted to Dewey’s many achievements, but very little was
mentioned of the scandals and difficulties he encountered throughout his lifetime. The
“biografic” compilation (author employed Dewey’s widely unused simplified spelling), was
published in Lake Placid Florida, by “Melvil Dewey Biografy”, most likely funded by the estate of
Dewey himself.
The next biography published was Fremont Rider’s Melvil Dewey in 1944. Thirteen years
after Dewey’s death, an unbiased book was overdue. While Rider does begin his assessment by
declaring Dewey a genius, he mostly succeeded in remaining impartial throughout the rest of
the book. Many of the bitter rivalries are examined, such as his departure from Colombia
University due to his unwavering opinion that woman will be admitted to the library school.
However, Rider does not touch upon the racist scandal that plagued Dewey later in his life.
Perhaps as the controversy was not directly related to librarianship it was left out, although he
did delve into other parts of Dewey’s personal life.
In 1945, a small backlash against Dewey began with Kurt F. Leidecker’s article “The Debt
of Melvil Dewey to William Torrey Harris”. Prior to Leidecker’s article, all authors on Dewey
had been in agreement that Dewey was an unmitigated genius, even with his personal flaws. In
his article, Leidecker put forward that Dewey borrowed heavily for the Dewey Decimal
Classification from St. Louis Public School superintendent William Torrey Harris, who developed
a numerical system that was based upon Francis Bacon’s six fundamental distinctions. Dewey
did not give any credit for helping or influencing his famous classification system. Leidecker
demonstrated Dewey’s indebtedness by tracing the correspondence between the two men in
4
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
the early 1870s, before Dewey published his first classification guide. Dewey asked for any
advice that Harris could spare in his endeavor to create a classification system and Dewey’s
final product was very similar to Harris’ (Leidecker, 1945). Leidecker concluded that since Harris
held no resentment against Dewey, no harm was done. Later authors were not so quick to
forgive Dewey for his oversight.
There was very little material printed on Dewey directly after the Second World War.
During the 1960s and 1970s, historians began to examine Dewey’s contributions to librarianship
once more. In 1968, Laurel Grotzinger published her article on Dewey’s relationship with his
students, particularly Katharine Sharp, who went on to found the University of Illinois Library
School. Grotzinger’s article was innovative as while Dewey was a central focus, the paper
actually examined how he influenced the lives of others, and did not study his life directly.
The “real” creator of the Dewey Decimal system was again investigated in John Maass’
“Who Invented Dewey’s Classification?”. Similar to Leidecker’s 1945 article, Maass’ looked into
the various people that could have, and most likely did influence Dewey as he developed his
classification system. Maass (1972) concluded that Dewey was likely influenced by William
Phipps Blake, the scholar in charge of organizing the 30,000 exhibits at the Centennial
Exhibition of 1876 (p. 335). Blake used a decimal system, and Maass claimed that Dewey had
visited the Exhibition and shown great interest.
In 1976, 100 years after Dewey first published his classification system, author John
Phillip Comaromi published his tome, The Eighteen Editions of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
In this 600 page book, Comaromi spent an entire chapter investigating who influenced Dewey,
5
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
based his work off of Maass’ and other historians, as well as his own personal research.
Comaromi disagreed with Maass’ conclusion over Blake’s influence on Dewey, and reminded
the reader that “Dewey was a genius easily capable of inventing a decimal system of
classification on his own” (Comaromi, 1976, 20).
A large collection of articles and essays on Dewey was published in 1978. Edited by
Sarah K. Vann, the volume contains a clear bibliographic sketch of Dewey’s life and offered
several resources that are difficult to obtain outside of the collection. The book also included
extensive samplings of Dewey’s own work from his publish works, private journals and
correspondence.
Many articles and books concerning Dewey were published throughout the 1980s,
beginning with Marion Caseys’s paper, “Efficiency, Taylorism, and Libraries in Progressive
America”. Casey studied Dewey, in conjunction with Charles McCarthy, who developed the
movement to organize legislative libraries. Again, this paper does not investigate Dewey’s life or
accomplishments, but the theories, such as Taylorism, which may have inspired him. Similarly,
Dierdre Stam wrote about Dewey’s relationship with his wife Annie, and their attachment to
communitarianism in “Melvil and Annie Dewey and the Communitarian Ideal”. Examining
theories of what may have influenced Dewey was popular during the 1980s.
During the 1990s, Wayne Wiegand published his book, Irrepressible Reformer, the first
full lengthy biography since the 1940s. This monograph is considered to be the definitive
biography on Dewey. Wiegand delved heavily into many of Dewey’s faults, such as his anti-
6
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Semitism and troubled relationships with women. He did, however, remain unbiased in his
portrayal of Dewey: a flawed man, yet an unwavering genius.
Since the year 2000, several articles have been published relating to Dewey, but none
focused solely on him. “The Professionalization of a Calling: Mission and Method at the New
York Library Club, 1885-1901”, studied the beginnings of the New York Library Club, and Dewey
is discussed as one of the founding members. In Hal Grossman’s “A Comparison of the
Progressive Era and the Depression Years: Societal Influences on Predictions of the Future of
the Library, 1895-1940”, Dewey was scrutinized as one of the progressive librarians who called
for American libraries to harness the methods of American businesses.
In any history of librarianship, Melvil Dewey’s name is bound to be mentioned. As one of
the early leaders, he is still arguably the most recognized name in library science. He was born
on December 10, 1851 in Adams Center, New York. The youngest of five children born to Eliza
and Joey Dewey, Dewey grew up in a modest home where his parents manufactured and sold
boots (Vann, 1978). The Dewey family was well known in their town for being famously hard
working, and his mother Eliza held a strong spiritual conviction (Wiegand, 1996, 8). Dewey grew
up going to school, working at his parent’s store, and attending Baptist church. He enjoyed
physical activity, and was a voracious reader from an early age (Wiegand, 1996, 8). While he
considered becoming a teacher, he instead attended the Hungerford Institute at the age of 17.
It was there, in 1868, a fire broke out, and Dewey risked his life to carry out as many books as
he could while the fire raged throughout the building (Wiegand, 1996, 10). After recovering,
Dewey left for Oneida Seminary (Vann, 1978, 23). From there he enrolled in Alfred University in
7
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
New York and studied for 14 weeks, then chose to enter Amherst College in 1870 (Vann, 1978,
24).
Amherst College had a strong tie to Unitarianism, and had been founded to “check the
progress of errors which are propagated from Cambridge (Harvard)” (Vann, 1978, 25). Dewey
settled into his new college, and thought of enrolling in the physical education program as
fitness and health were a staple in his life, however he decided against it (Vann, 1978, 26). He
lived on campus and became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which at this
time, frowned on drinking and extravagance and promoted educational activities (Wiegand,
1996, 16). As he was an avid reader, and also a poor student, Dewey spent a good deal of time
at the Amherst Library. He became interested in spelling reform, as he realized the Anglo-Saxon
language was so filled with spelling irregularities, it is difficult for foreigners to learn the
language (Wiegand, 1996, 17).
Dewey became an employee of the Library in 1872, in order to reduce his student loans,
and began keep their accounts (Wiegand, 1996, 17). It was at this point he began to make notes
of the irregularities in the classification systems kept in different libraries. New York State
Library was “arranged alphabetically with no attention to subjects” (Vann, 1978, 28), and the
Boston Public Library used a location shelving system. On May 8th, 1873, he proposed his own
basic classification system to the Library Committee of Amherst College. The Library accepted
the plan and ordered 200 copies to be printed immediately for students use (Comaromi, 1976,
4). In 1874, Dewey was appointed an Assistant Librarian for Amherst College, and this allowed
him to complete his classification system in the library. This paper will examine the
development of the DDC more closely further below.
8
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Dewey has often been described as “progressive” by historians. He wished to harness
the genius of the American business model for libraries across and predicted that the public
library would be viewed as essential to every progressive community as a place of education
(Grossman, 2011, 105). Libraries of his future would develop and evolve, allowing users to keep
books as they would be cheap to produce and therefore, abundant. Dewey believed that
libraries would become centralized as reasonable library managers would recognize this as the
“proper” way to conduct library business (Grossman, 2011, 106).
Dewey was also influenced by communitarianism, as well as the efficiency movement.
Dewey grew up very close to a communitarian commune, and later showed an interest in group
living when he went on to found the Lake Placid Resort (Stam, 1989, 126). Throughout his
library career though, he demonstrated an interest in communitarianism by voicing his opinions
on the community aspect of librarianship and his desire to centralize libraries. Additionally,
Dewey was an especially efficient scholar, as evidenced by his Decimal Classification, which put
heavily importance on exact scientific approaches to library science (Casey, 1981, 267). As a
young adult, he had the upmost respect for an engineer’s approach to solving problems, and
built upon that background belief when devising his decimal classification system.
On July 9, 1874, Dewey graduated with his class of sixty-six with a Bachelors of Arts. He
stayed on at Amherst College as both a student, and as Assistant Librarian in Charge of the
Library (Vann, 1978, 29). The next year, a chance meeting at Harvard College Library would alter
his life. It was there, in April of 1875 that he met Annie Godfrey, who was serving as Wellesley
College’s librarian. Dewey was there to present his classification scheme to a Harvard librarian
and Annie was on a tour (Stam, 1989, 131). They soon began their long distance courtship.
9
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
While not much of their correspondence has survived, in the letters that did, Annie wrote with
a gentle, playful tone of teasing, to the more reserved and serious tone of Dewey.
I am going to haunt you. Every night when the clock strikes ten I shall come to you
in imagination, put my hand on your forehead, smooth your temples - a moment
and whisper "good-night." If you dare disobey you shall hear a little voice sing
softly "good-night, good night, good-night," over and over again, keeping time
with the monotonous ticking of the clock. You may think it's conscience, but it's
"me" and you shall know my power as a ghost. (Stam, 1989, 131)
Dewey and Annie would eventually marry in 1878, and she would be a constant source
of inspiration and support as a fellow librarian. She was one of only ten women who
attended the formative meeting for the American Library Association, and later traveled
with Dewey to England to attend the first meeting of the British Library Association
(Stam, 1989, 131).
In 1876, the United States was celebrating their centennial on July 4th. The centennial
celebration actually did play a small role in helping Dewey achieve some of his
accomplishments during the year. In April, his Decimal Classification scheme was finally
published. Later that year, he would succeed in starting up the Library Journal, and would
become the youngest co-founder of the American Library Association.
As mentioned above, Dewey began contemplating different methods for information
organization (specifically library books), while working at the Amherst Library college. Many
historians have put forward that Dewey owes a great deal of gratitude to some other
contemporary scholars for his Decimal system. While this paper does not claim to conclude one
10
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
way or another, it does examine the other men that historians have gestured to during their
own research.
Kurt Leidecker was the first historian to point to William Torrey Harris as an inspiration
for Dewey. Harris was the superintendent of the St. Louis Public School system and a student of
philosophy (Leidecker, 1945, 139). His system rests upon Sir Francis Bacon’s fundamental
distinctions as they were developed in the De Augmentis Scientiarum, where all of human
learning can be divided into three subject: history, poetry and philosophy (Leidecker, 1945,
140). Harris developed his idea into four main categories of Art, Science, History and
Miscellany. While four categories seemed quite different than the nine categories of Dewey’s
original system, the similarities are in the subcategories that Harris devised. Under Harris’
category “Science”, there was Philosophy, Social Science, Philology, Natural Science and
Theology. Some of Dewey’s nine categories were Philosophy, Sociology, Philology, Natural
Science and Theology. Although Dewey’s final categories were Useful Arts, Fine Arts, Literature
and History, and Harris used multiple subdivisions for his Art and History categories, the
similarities are striking (Leidecker, 1945, 141).
Historians Leidecker, Wiegand and John Philip Comaromi, all believe that Harris’ system
motivated Dewey. In his first edition of the classification, Dewey wrote: “The plan of the St.
Louis Public School Library and that of the Apprentice’s Library of New York, which in some
cases resemble his own, were not seen till all the essential features were decided upon, though
not given to the public” (Comaromi, 1996, 13). This is unlikely, as Harris published his system in
the 1870 edition of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, which Dewey acknowledged reading
in the spring of 1873 (Wiegand, 1998, 177). The day following his library scheme presentation
11
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
to the Amherst Library in 1873, he wrote to Harris to ask for a copy of his catalogue. This
indicated that Dewey had some knowledge of Harris’ system while initially devising his scheme,
and that Dewey had a copy of the catalogue for three years while he finalized his own
(Comaromi, 1976, 12). If Harris held any grudge against Dewey, he did let on. As Leidecker
notes, Harris and Dewey maintained a friendly correspondence throughout their lives as not
only were they interested in library classifications but also with spelling reform (Leidecker,
1945, 142).
Historian Comaromi (1976) also believed Dewey drew ideas from Jacob Schwartz, who
worked at the New York Mercantile Library during the time that Dewey was drafting his decimal
system (p. 13). Schwartz used letters to indicate his main categories, then numerals for the
subcategories, then more numerals to further subdivide. To indicate spaces between the letters
and numerals, Schwartz used a decimal (Comaromi, 1976, 14). Schwartz also put every book on
different card, as opposed to all in one ledger, which Dewey agreed was a much more efficient
system (Comaromi, 1976, 13).
In 1972, John Maass questioned whether or not Dewey was influenced by another
previously unknown contemporary, William Phipps Blake. In 1872, Blake was charged with the
organization and arrangement of all 30,000 exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania (Maass, 1972, 335). An engineer and miner by trade, Blake had developed his own
scheme by midway through 1872. He proposed separating the exhibition into ten departments,
subdividing those into ten groups, which were further divided into ten classes (Wiegand, 1998,
177). Blake’s system was published in 1873, and was most likely sent to Amherst, where Dewey
was developing his classification (Maass, 1972, 340).
12
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
In John Comaromi’s book, The Eighteen Editions of the Dewey Decimal Classification, he
examined all the research and claims made by other historians on who influenced Dewey. He
also studied the original preface in Dewey’s first edition of the DDC. Dewey wrote:
…in his varied reading, correspondence and conversation on the subject, the author
doubtless received suggestions and gained ideas which it is now impossible for him
to acknowledge. Perhaps the most fruitful source of ideas was the Nuovo Sistema di
Catalogo Bibliografico Generale di Natale Battezzati of Milan. Certainly he is
indebted to this system adopted by the Italian publishers in 1871 although he has
copied nothing from it. (Comaromi, 1976, 10)
Comaromi thought that Dewey mentioned his indebtedness to Battezzati, for the idea of
introducing title-slip into the United States, as to protect his originality and copyright. Dewey
did not mention any indebtedness to Battezzati, or anyone else for that matter, for the idea of
using Arabic numerals and decimals, although those ideas had been in use in cataloguing for
years (Comaromi, 1976, 18). Comaromi was of the opinion that Dewey was deliberately
ignoring many of the scholars that influenced him.
Dewey, however, narrated a different story. While a student at Amherst, Dewey was
unimpressed by the various ways that libraries organized and catalogued their book collection
(Comaromi, 1976, 3). “In visiting 50 libraries, I was astounded to find the lack of efficiency and
waste of time and money in constant re-cataloguing and reclassifying made necessary by the
almost universally used fixed system where a book was numbered according to the particular
rom, tier, and shelf where it changed to stand on that day, instead of by class, division, and
section to which it belonged yesterday, today and forever” (Dewey, 1920, 151). He began to
13
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
read as much as he could on the technique used at other libraries, keeping notes of his readings
(Wiegand, 1998, 179). He took tours of different libraries as well, such as the Boston Public
Library, and the Harvard College Library. He wrote in his notes that he had read a pamphlet
entitled “A Decimal System for the Arrangement and Administration of Libraries”, and he had
taken an immediate liking to the idea of merging a decimal system with library cataloguing
(Wiegand, 1998, 180). While working at the Amherst Library, he spent much of his time
contemplating a system that would work for not only Amherst, but all libraries. Dewey was
sitting in Sunday sermon in 1873, when the idea came to him to “use decimals to number a
classification of all human knowledge in print” (Comaromi, 1976, 4).
His first draft was created in 1873. It proposed that all human knowledge could be
divided into nine categories: Philosophy, Theology, Sociology, Philology, Natural Sciences,
Useful Arts, Fine Arts, Literature and History (Wiegand, 1996, 32). All these categories would be
subdivided into nine sub-classes by inserting a decimal. Further subdivision could then be
added by placing a second digit after the first sub-class signifier (Wiegand, 1998, 181). Within
the categories, the authors would be arranged alphabetically. He submitted his system to the
Library committee at Amherst College in May of 1873, and they asked for 200 copies of his
pamphlet to be printed. Dewey set to work on reorganizing and cataloguing the library
(Comaromi, 1976, 5).
The day following his presentation to Amherst, Dewey wrote to William Harris for copies
of his classification for some outside help and perspective (Wiegand, 1998, 18). The number
one priority for him was for the classification system to be clear and concise. He approached
the professors and other staff at Amherst for guidance in arranging the divisions, and physically
14
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
re-cataloguing the library (Wiegand, 1998, 182). Wiegand summed up the classification system
when he wrote that the DDC “harnessed a mid-19th century male white Western (and largely
Christian) view of the world” (Wiegand, 1996, 33).
In 1876, Dewey had finished and polished his first draft of the DDC. He had added in one
final category, “Bibliographies, periodicals and encyclopaedias”, as well as a preface which
explained the classification and index. In March of that year, he wrote to the Register of
Copyrights in Washington, D.C. asking for a copyright. As he was unsure of the cost of
copyrighting a work, he enclosed one dollar to cover the cost (Wiegand, 1998, 188). Dewey had
been in contact with Edward Ginn, of Ginn and Company educational publishing house, and
Ginn offered to buy the extra copies of the DDC and serve as publisher for all future editions
(Wiegand, 1996, 30).
Dewey was hired by Wellesey College in 1882 as the Library Bureau Consultant and used
this time to polish his system and train others in how to implement the changes in working
libraries (Wiegand, 1996, 75). The second edition of the DDC was released in 1885 with 500
copies, and had expanded the subject index from 2,000 to 14,000 entries (Wiegand, 1996, 113).
Work on the third edition began immediately however, Dewey left that work to other scholars
as he began to focus on new projects in his life (Wiegand, 1996, 114). In 1996, the 21st edition
of the DDC was published at a hefty 4,000 pages.
It is clear that Dewey did not invent his decimal system out of thin air, with no influence.
Most historians who examined the evidence concluded that Dewey took the pre-existing ideas
of decimal systems, categories and sub-divisions and expertly wove them together with Arabic
numerals and alphabetized systems to create a classification that was easy enough to
15
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
implement in most libraries. Dewey asserted that classification systems were necessary to
overcome the chaos of human information (Olson, 2004, 604). In 1876, he succeeded in
beginning the records management reform that would someday be used by 200,000 libraries in
135 different countries throughout the world. 95% of public and school libraries use the system
(Wiegand, 1998, 175).
In 1876, Dewey also began two other projects that would become very important to the
history of librarianship. A library convention was held in October of 1876, designed to bring
together the professionals of the library science world. Not only was Dewey instrumental in
organizing the convention, he was an active participant and instigator in the historical decisions
made there (Glynn, 2006, 440).
It was during this convention, that the American Library Association was born. Dewey
welcomed the librarians to a professional status. In Maynord Brichford’s article for the ALA
(1991), “The Context for a History of the American Library Association”, Dewey inspired his
fellow librarians by calling them “ ‘positive, aggressive characters’ who ‘can readily produce any
book asked for,’ create ‘a desire to read the best books,’ and supply school graduates ‘with
reading which shall serve to educate’” (p. 351). During this first convention, the members had
difficulty producing a constitution, so Dewey suggested electing an executive committee to
create the document. He was named secretary and treasurer, and was the first member to sign
the constitution (Wiegand, 1996, 47). This initial conference set the tone for the first 15 years of
the ALA.
The constitution was finalized in March of 1877 (Wiegand, 1996, 51). The original stated
objective of the ALA was: “… to promote the library interest of the country by exchanging
16
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
views, researching conclusions, and inducing cooperation in all departments of bibliothecal
science and economy; by disposing the public mind to the founding and improving of libraries;
and by cultivating goodwill among its own members” (Wiegand, 1996, 51). The first annual
meeting was held in September 1877, with 66 in attendance. It was not an immediate success
however. Dewey was 25 and much younger than most of the members of the ALA. The
executive committee quickly realized however, that Dewey and his drive and energy were
necessary for the Association to succeed. He was focusing on improving library practice and not
theory (Wiegand, 1996, 52). He suggested that the ALA produce an annotated bibliography of
around 10,000 titles for any small library to begin their collection (Wiegand, 1996, 60). With
these small ideas, the ALA began to grow into the Association it is now: over 47,000 members
across the globe that promotes literacy and the professionals of library science.
The final success from Dewey in 1876 was the beginning of The Library Journal. In April
of that year, Dewey discussed his idea of publishing a new library journal with fellow librarians.
John Eaton, the US Commissioner of Education, had approached Dewey to include his DDC in
his 1876 centennial report on educational developments. Using this opportunity, Dewey
allowed the DDC to be used, so long as his new journal was also included (Wiegand, 1996, 35).
After this success, Dewey approached the editors Frederick Leypoldt and Richard Bowker of
Publishers Weekly in New York. They struck a deal where Leypoldt would own, print and
distribute the journal from New York, and Dewey would serve as editor from Boston (Glynn,
2006, 440).
The first edition was published in September of 1876, and was included in the programs
for the convention that would later go on to become the ALA (Wiegand, 1996, 44). The
17
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Association adopted The Library Journal as their official journal. Much like the ALA, The Library
Journal had an unsteady beginning. The publication lost a whopping $1100 dollars in its first
year of operation. Bowker attempted to force the editor position out of Dewey’s hands, but
Dewey pushed back. He threatened to start a competing journal with his ALA associates
(Wiegand, 1996, 57). Bowker relented. A few years later, Leypoldt attempted to suspend the
journal due to low sales, yet there was so much outrage from ALA members, it was immediately
reinstated. Since then, The Library Journal has served as an outlet for librarians and members of
the ALA to inform themselves on the latest news and accomplishments of their profession.
Melvil Dewey left a long list of accomplishments throughout his lifetime. By the time he
was 25, at the end of 1876, he had published his most famous work, the Dewey Decimal
Classification, helped found the American Library Association, and began the long-running
Library Journal. He went on to found the first American college for librarians, promoted
women in the profession and was a zealous spelling reformer. Later he founded the Lake Placid
Club, a social and recreation club in New York. Dewey was a polarizing man. He held strong
viewpoints and debated often. While undoubtedly a genius, historians have questioned some
of his decisions regarding the DDC as well as his personal views that came out later in life. All
can agree, however, that as polarizing as he may be, there is little chance that historians will
stop discussing him anytime soon.
18
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Resources
Bowker, R. R. (1932). Melvil Dewey: Founder and pioneer. Bulletin of the American Library
Association, 26 (2), 93-94. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25687571.
Brichford, M. (1991). The context for a history of the American Library Association. Libraries &
Culture, 26 (2), 348-356. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25542341.
Casey, M. (1981). Efficiency, taylorism, and libraries in progressive America. Journal of Library
History, 16 (2), 265-279. Retrieved from:
http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25541194
Comaromi, J. P. (1976). The eighteen editions of the Dewey Decimal Classification. Albany, New
York: Forest Press Division, Lake Placid Education Foundation.
Dawe, G. G. (1932). Melvil Dewey: Seer, inspirer, doer, 1851-1931. Lake Placid Florida: Melvil
Dewey Biografy.
Dewey, M. (1876). Classification and subject index for cataloguing and arranging books and
pamphlets of a library. Amherst, Massachussets.
Dewey, M. (1920). Decimal classification beginnings. Library Journal, 45, 151-152
Frohmann, B. (1997). “Best books” and excited readers: Discursive tensions in the writings of
Melvil Dewey. Libraries & Culture, 32 (3), 349-371. Retrieved from:
http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25548545
Glynn, T. (2006). The professionalization of a calling: Mission and method at the New York
Library Club, 1885-1901. Libraries and the Cultural Record, 41 (4), 438-461. Retrieved
from: http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25549364
Grossman, H. B. (2011). A comparison of the progressive era and the depression years: Societal
influences on predictions of the future of the library,1895-1940. Libraries and the
Cultural Record, 46 (1), 102-128. Retrieved from:
http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=t
rue&db=aph&AN=59159654&site=ehost-live
Grotzinger, L. A. (1968). Melvil Dewey: The sower. Journal of Library History, 3 (4), 313-328.
Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25540126.
19
MELVIL DEWEY IN 1876
Hill, P. F. (1932). Melvil Dewey: a Personal View. Bulletin of the American Library Association,
26 (2), 94-95. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25687572.
Leidecker, K. F. (1945). The debt of Melvil Dewey to William Torrey Harris. The Library
Quarterly, 15 (2), 139-142. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4303322
Maack, M. N. (1998). Gender, culture, and the transformation of American librarianship, 18901920. Libraries & Culture, 33 (1), 51-61. Retrieved
from: http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/2554859.
Maass, J. (1972). Who invented Dewey's classification? Wilson Library Bulletin 47, 335-342.
Hardcopy.
Olson, H. A. (2004). The ubiquitous hierarchy: An army to overcome the threat of a mob.
Library Trends, 52 (3), 604-616. Retrieved from:
http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=t
rue&db=aph&AN=12885305&site=ehost-live.
Rider, F. (1944). Melvil Dewey. Chicago: American Library Association.
Stam, D. C. (1989). Melvil and Annie Dewey and the communitarian ideal. Libraries & Culture,
24 (2), 125-143. Retrieved
from: http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25542137.
Wiegand, W. (1996). Irrepressible reformer: A biography of Melvil Dewey. Chicago: American
Library Association.
Wiegand, W. (1996). Dewey declassified: A revelatory look at the “irrepressible reformer”.
American Libraries, 27 (1), 54-60. Retrieved from:
http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=t
rue&db=llf&AN=502845503&site=ehost-live.
Wiegand, W. A. (1998). The "Amherst Method": The origins of the Dewey Decimal
Classification. Libraries & Culture, 33 (2), 175-194. Retrieved from:
http://www.jstor.org/stable/25548614.
20