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Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
Selected materials cataloged; remainder arranged.
The professional and personal correspondence, papers, and pamphlet collection of Melvil Dewey, relating to libraries, the American Library Association, library classification, the Lake Placid Club, Columbia College, the New York State Library, and spelling reform. Included are notes for and a typescript of Grosvenor Dawe's biography of Dewey.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Readers must use microfilm copy for Box 35A journals, i.e. diaries, which are fragile. Box 35A is missing (Feb 2020).
New York State Library School Records.Series III. Columbia University Libraries.
Librarians' Portraits Collection. Columbia University Libraries.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Alternate Form Available
Diaries are on: microfilm.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Godfrey Dewey, 1943-44; gift of Forest Press, 1987.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Dewey, Godfrey. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1943. Accession number--M-43.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/89.
2020-03-23 Replaced PDF with structured finding aid. cml/kws
2023-05-10 Box 100 and 100A inventory updated by CLB
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Melvil Dewey (1851–1931), born Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey, was an influential American librarian and educator, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, a founding member of the American Library Association, and a chief librarian at Columbia University. His library supply and equipment company, Library Bureau, provided furnishings for many of the public libraries constructed by Andrew Carnegie's bequest at the turn of the 20th century, as well as filing supplies for business and government records management. Dewey was also a founder of the Lake Placid Club and an advocate for spelling reform and adoption of the metric system in the United States. Although Dewey's contributions to the modern library are widely recognized, his legacy is marred by documented incidents of sexual harassment, racism, and antisemitism. Under Dewey's leadership, the Lake Placid Club's official policies barred Black, Jewish, and other people from marginalized groups from membership. Dewey was also forced to step down from participating in the American Library Association following a series of incidents in which he sexually harassed prominent women librarians on an ALA-sponsored trip to Alaska.