Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Melvil Dewey papers, 1870-1931

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: Ms Coll\Dewey, M
Bib ID 4078696 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931; Dawe, Grosvenor, 1863-1948
Title Melvil Dewey papers, 1870-1931
Physical Description 68.5 linear feet (106 boxes, 73 pamphlet boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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.



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

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

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).

Related Materials

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 rbml@columbia.edu 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

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/89.

Revision Description

2020-03-23 Replaced PDF with structured finding aid. cml/kws

2023-05-10 Box 100 and 100A inventory updated by CLB

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Account books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Biographies (literary works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Financial records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Personnel records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
indexes (reference sources) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Library Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classification -- Books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classification, Dewey decimal Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia College (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lake Placid Club Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Librarians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York State Library Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public libraries -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Spelling reform Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

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.

All external visitors, including alumni, must meet the University's primary COVID-19 vaccination series mandate and are required to adhere to the University's COVID-19 policies . After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.

Series I: Catalogued Correspondence

Box CC1 Addams, Jane

Box CC1 Ade, George

Box CC1 Bacheller, Irving

Box CC1 Beach, Rex

Box CC1 Bell, Alexander Graham

Box CC1 Bok, Edward

Box CC1 Bowker, Richard Rogers

Box CC1 Carnegie, Andrew

Box CC1 Cortelyou, George Bruce

Box CC1 Dreiser, Theodore

Box CC1 Funck, Isaac Kaufman

Box CC1 Gilman, Daniel Coit

Box CC1 Hayes, Rutherford B.

Box CC1 Ochs, Adolph Simon

Box CC1 Rogers, Bruce

Box CC1 Scott, Charles Payson Gurley

Box CC1 Smith, Alfred E.

Box CC1 Smith, Benjamin Eli

Box CC1 Veblen, Thorstein

Box CC1 Walcott, Charles Doolittle

Box CC1 Washington, Booker T.

Box CC1 Whittier, John Greenleaf

Series II: Subject Files

Box 1 Adirondack Civic League

Box 1 Albany Civic League

2 folders

Box 1 Alfred University

American Library Association (ALA)

Box 1 Conferences, 1876-1884

4 folders

Box 2 Conferences, 1885-1892

Box 3 Conference, 1893

Box 4 Conferences, 1894-1897

Box 5 Conference, 1898

Box 6 Conferences, 1899-1904

Box 7 Conferences, 1905-1931

Box 7 Correspondence--Miscellaneous, 1905-1931

Box 8 Melvil Dewey--Notes in Shorthand

Box 8 Forms

Box 8 Finances

Box 8 Headquarters

Box 8 Histories

Box 8 Legislation

Box 8 Library Extension

Box 8 Miscellaneous

Box 8 Presidents


Box 8 General--ALA Catalog

Box 9 American Library Institute

Box 9 Publicity

Box 9 Publishing Section (2 folders), I887-I895, 1906

2 folders

Retirement Specimens

Amherst College

Box 10 Correspondence

Box 10 Miscellaneous

2 folders

Box 10 Billboards

Box 10 Birth Control

Box 10 Calendar Reform


Box 11 Annual Reports--Finance

Box 12 Memos and Reports

Box 12 Classification


Box 12 Correspondence

Box 13 Correspondence

Box 13 Proof Sheets

Box 14 Reprints

Box 14 Classified Material

Box 14 022.34-

Box 15 022.4-023.9

Box 16 025-029

Box 17 400-655

Box 18 Columbia College Library

Box 19 Columbia College School of Library Economy

Dewey, Annie

Box 19 Correspondence

Box 20 Correspondence

Box 20 A-F

Box 20A G-Rowley

Box 21 Rothery-Miscellaneous


Box 22 Biographical Notes, Appreciation, Memorials

Box 22 Condolences

Box 22 Godfrey Family Affairs

Box 22 Miscellaneous

Box 22 Reading

Box 22 Shorthand Notes

Box 23 Speeches and Writings

Dewey, Godfrey

Box 23 Correspondence

Box 23 Writings

Box 23 Dewey, Melvil

Box 97 Account Books

Box 98 Account Books

Box 99 Account Books

Box 23 Autobiographical Notes


Box 24 Mss. Of

Box 24A Mss. Of

Box 25 Copyright--Correspondence

Box 26 Decimal Classification--Libraries Foreign

Box 27 Libraries Special--Spelling Reform

Box 28 State Library Association

Box 104 Biographies of

Box 103 Books from library

Box 96 Cancelled Checks

Box 28 Clippings

Box 29 Clippings

Box 29 Correspondence, 1876-1877

Box 30 Abbott-Butler, N.M.

Box 30A Caltell-Dye

Box 31 Eastman-Gunther

Box 31A Haase-Jordan

Box 32 Kappa-Nye

Box 33 0-R

Box 33A S

Box 34 T-Z

Box 35 Death

Box 35A Diaries

Diaries are fragile. Reader must use microfilm copy. Physical box missing (03/2020).

Box 36 Diplomas--Encyclopedia Articles

Box 95 80th Birthday Celebration--Letters of Congratulations to

2 bound volumes and 1 folder

Box 37 European Trips--Publicity

Box 100 Library Bureau--Director's Records

Box 105 Memorabilia of Melvil & Annie Dewey

Miscellaneous Papers

Box 92 A-Ed Administration; Administration Clippings, Scrapbooks; Administration--Handbooks; Administration--Library Supplies; Routines; Administration Papers by Cutter, Dewey, Poole; Advertising; Book Rarities; Classification; Editing and Printing.

Box 93 En-H Encyclopedias; Ethics; Filters, Fire Protection, Thermometers, Turbine Wheels; Finance Accounts, Payrolls, Forms; Finance - Accounts, Book-keeping; Health--Sanitation.

Box 94 I-S Journalism; Indexes and Indexing; Library Economy--Miscellaneous; Loans, Travelling Libraries; Mnemonics; Notes and Notetaking; Peace; Reference Works and Reader's Services; Religion, Church; Sex.

Box 99 Notebooks

Box 91 Personal Letterbooks, 1989 July 5--1894 July 2

Box 91 Personal Letterbooks, 1894 July 2-1895 November 5

Box 91 Personal Letterbooks, 1895 November 25-1897 March 3

Box 38 Speeches, Family Correspondence, etc.


Box 39 Correspondence

Box 40 Reports

Home Economics

Box 41 Correspondence--A-M

Box 42 Correspondence--N-Z

Box 43 Miscellaneous Pamphlets

Lake Placid Club--Florida

Box 44 Aims--Equipment

Box 45 Finance--Publicity

Box 46 Real Estate

Lake Placid Club--New York

Box 46 Churches

Box 47 Club Store--Contracts

Box 48 Correspondence

Box 49 Correspondence

Box 49 Director's reports, 1927

Box 50 Director's reports, 1928-

Box 50 Equipment, 1898

Box 51 Equipment, 1899

Box 51 Finance, 1910

Box 52 Finance, 1912

Box 52 Financial Reports, 1931

Box 53 Finances [Stocks and Bonds]

Box 53 Membership

Box 54 Miscellaneous


Box 54 Club Notes

Box 55 Club Notes

Box 56 Club Notes

Box 56 Staff Bulletin

Box 57 Real Estate

Box 58 Real Estate

Box 58 Social Activities

Box 59 Sports--Water Supply

Box 60 Lake Placid Club--Riversea


Box 60 Foreign

Box 61 Public

Box 64 Library

Box 61 Library Bureau, 1888

Box 62 Library Bureau, 1889-1897

Box 63 Library Bureau, 1898-1904

Box 64 Library Bureau, 1905

Box 100 Library Bureau Directors' Records, 1888-1900

Box 100 Library Bureau Stockholders' Records, 1888-1899

Box 100 Library Bureau Special Bulletins (salesman's bulletins), 1903-1910, 3 folders

Box 65 Library Journal--Library Schools--Miscellaneous

Box 66 Metric System

Box 66 Associations--Correspondence

Box 67 Miscellaneous--Speeches

Box 100A Meter-Diagram with Metric and English Scales, Tables of Weights, Measures, Etc. A. & T. W. Stanley, New Britain, Conn.; and 1 wooden metric and imperial ruler, undated

Box 68 Miscellaneous--New York State Conservation

Box 69 New York State Legislature

Box 69 New York State Librarian

Box 70 New York State Librarian

Box 70 New York State Library

Box 70 Clippings

Box 71 Correspondence--Fire

Box 72 New York State Library--New York State Library Association--Miscellaneous

Box 73 New York State Library School

Box 73 New York State University

Box 73 "A"--Forums

Box 74 Home Education

Box 74 Regents, 1889-1894

Box 75 Regents 1895, 1895

Box 76 Regents undated, undated

Box 77 Reports

Box 101 Photographs

Box 78 Pictures

Box 78 Melvil Dewey

Box 79 Miscellaneous

Box 80 Miscellaneous

Box 81 Quotations

Box 81 Readers and Writers Economy Company

Seymour, May

Box 81 Correspondence to M.S. Sharp,

Box 81 Miscellaneous Papers

Sharp, Katherine L.

Box 81 Death, Estate, etc.

Box 102 Materials

Box 81 Miscellaneous

Box 82 Shorthand

Box 83 Shorthand

Box 83 Simplified Spelling

Box 83 Correspondence, 1874-1891

Box 84 Correspondence, 1892-1903

Box 85 Correspondence, 1904-1913

Box 86 Correspondence, 1914-1931

Box 86 Simplified Spelling Board

Box 87 Spelling Reform

Box 87 Association--International Language

Box 88 Publicity

Box 89 Publicity

Box 90 Robert Pierce--Letterbook, 1895 March-April

Box 89 Wellesley College

Series III: Pamphlets

Box 106 P-1--Amherst College Publication

Box 106 P-2--Birth Control

Box 106 P-2--Calendar Reform

Box 106 P-3--Chautauqua

Box 106 P-4--Chautauqua

Box 107 P-5--Classified Pamphlets (D.C)

Box 107 P-5--010-020

Box 107 P-6--021-022

Box 107 P-7--023-025

Box 108 P-8--026-100

Box 108 P-9--300-374

Box 108 P-10--620-630

Box 109 P-11--376-613.12

Box 109 P-12--613.2-616

Box 109 P-13--640-653

Box 110 P-14--654-970

Box 110 P-15--Columbia College Pamphlets

Box 110 P-16--Dewey, Melvil

Box 110 P-16--Speeches, Articles, Letters to Editors, etc.

Box 111 P-17--Columbia College Pamphlets

Box 111 P-18--Dewey, Annie-Obituary

Box 111 P-18--Dewey, Melvil-Obituary

Box 111 P-18--Seymour, May-Obituary

Box 111 P-19--Dewey-Melvil

Box 111 P-19--Biography—Advertising [with related letters]

Box 111 P-20--Efficiency

Box 111 P-20--Advertising

Box 111 P-21--Notes, Lists, Rules and Clippings

Box 112 P-22--Pamphlets

Box 112 P-23--Pamphlets

Box 113 P-24--Pamphlets

Box 113 P-25--Pamphlets

Box 113 P-26--Pamphlets

Box 114 P-27--Periodicals

Box 115 P-28--Home Economics

Box 114 P-28--Advertising and Pamphlets

Box 114 P-29--Efficiency

Box 114 P-29--Periodicals

Box 114 P-30--Periodicals

Box 115 P-31--Home Economics

Box 115 P-31--Clippings and Periodicals

Box 115 P-32--Lectures and Schools

Box 116 P-33--Library Periodicals

Box 116 P-34--Library Pamphlets

Box 117 P-35--Lake Placid Club

Box 117 P-35--Pamphlets

Box 117 P-36--Libraries

Box 117 P-36--Pamphlets

Box 117 P-37--Library Bureau

Box 117 P-37--Publications

Box 118 P-38--Pamphlets

Box 119 P-39--Metric System

Box 119 P-39--Pamphlets

Box 118 P-40--Pamphlets

Box 119 P-41--Pamphlets

Box 119 P-42--Pamphlets and Publications

Box 119 P-43--Miscellaneous Pamphlets and Publications

Box 120 P-44--New York State University Pamphlets

Box 120 P-45--New York State University

Box 120 P-45--Pamphlets

Box 121 P-46--Pamphlets

Box 121 P-47--Pamphlets

Box 121 P-48--Pamphlets

Box 122 P-49--Pamphlets

Box 122 P-50--Pamphlets

Box 122 P-51--Publications

Box 123 P-52--Sharpe, Katharine L.

Box 123 P-52--Pamphlets

Box 123 P-53--New York State Library School

Box 123 P-53--Publications and Forum

Box 123 P-54--Prohibition

Box 123 P-54--Pamphlets and Clippings

Box 124 P-55--Shorthand

Box 124 P-55--Cards

Box 124 P-56--Shorthand

Box 124 P-56--Notebooks

Box 124 P-57--Notebooks

Box 125 P-58--Notebooks and Journals

Box 125 P-59--Notebooks

Box 125 P-60--Notebooks and Cards

Box 125 P-61--Pamphlets, Clippings etc.

Box 126 P-62--Spelling Reforms

Box 126 P-62--Pamphlets

Box 126 P-63--Pamphlets

Box 126 P-64--Pamphlets

Box 127 P-65--Pamphlets

Box 127 P-66--Pamphlets

Box 127 P-67--Pamphlets and Periodicals

Box 128 P-68--Periodicals and Articles

Box 128 P-69--Periodicals

Box 128 P-70--Periodicals

Box 129 P-71--Spelling Reform--International Language

Box 129 P-71--Pamphlets

Box 129 P-72--Pamphlets

Box 129 P-73--Tobacco

Box 129 P-73--Pamphlets

Box 130 P-74--Pamphlets, Clippings

Box 130 P-74--Duplicates of items in the collection

Box 131 P-75--Pamphlets, Clippings

Box 131 P-75--Duplicates of items in the collection

Box 132 P-76--Lake Placid, printed materials

Box 133 P-77--Lake Placid, printed materials

Box 134 P-78--Lake Placid, printed materials

Box 135 P-79--Lake Placid, printed materials and photographs

Box 136 P-79A--Photographs, card file box

Box 137 P-80--Lake Placid, printed materials