Melvil Dewey and the Winter Olympics

I have always enjoyed the Winter Olympics. I enjoy the grace of figure skating, the thrill of the Alpine events, and the absolute insanity of bobsledding and luge. As a library student, it was a pleasant surprise to find a strong connection between the Winter Olympics and Melvil Dewey, developer of the Dewey Decimal System.

Dewey founded a camp in New York for librarians, scholars, and social workers. The club? The Lake Placid Club. Dewey’s son Godfrey took charge of expanding the sporting venues. By the time of the selection of the site of the 1932 Winter Olympics, no other place could compare. Since that time, Lake Placid has been a world-class center for winter athletes. Lake Placid was also the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice.”

Dewey was not without criticism for his handling of the Lake Placid Club. Although originally founded as a resort for those of more modest means, it was not an egalitarian club. The club excluded anyone to whom any member had an objection. This resulted in the exclusion of Jews and other minorities. In 1905, Dewey was forced to resign his post as New York state librarian at least in part because of the club’s exclusionary practices.

Dewey died in December 1931, just weeks before the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.


  1. “Melvil Dewey” on American National Biography Online.
  2. Small Town, Big Dreams: Lake Placid’s Olympic Story.”

The Ohio Historical Society has just launched a new website to raise awareness of Ohio’s role in the Civil War: The site features:

  • Digital collections, such as Ohio regimental battle flags
  • A timeline of Civil War events
  • News about upcoming events
  • Discussion forum
  • A section for teachers

I am looking forward to watching this site grow as we get closer to the sesquicentennial in 2011. (Is that really only a little more than a year away?!)

Lincoln Collection at the Allen County Public Library

Ever since the announcement that the documents from the Lincoln Collection at the former Lincoln Museum would move to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, I’ve been anxious to see just what treasures are in the collection. If the first round of digital images are any indication, the collection is beyond “cool.”

When the Lincoln Museum closed, the Lincoln Financial Foundation gave the artifacts to the Indiana State Museum and the records to the Allen County Public Library. Work has begun on digitizing the records and posting them online. The images that they’ve posted so far are rather tantalizing. My favorite is an undated note written by Lincoln: “Let Master Tad have a Navy sword. A. Lincoln”.

Although not part of the Lincoln Collection, the Genealogy Center at ACPL also has posted an image of a silk ribbon commemorating Lincoln’s death. As they note on the website, it is a rare glimpse into life in Fort Wayne at the time, as the newspapers from April 1865 have been lost.

A recent article in the Journal Gazette has some behind-the-scene photos and more detail about the Lincoln Collection at ACPL. It will be interesting to watch as more and more images are posted on the Lincoln Collection website.

Student History Conference at OSU-Newark Today

I am soooooooo far behind in my blogging that I’ve neglected to mention something I’m very excited about: presenting at the Student History Conference at Ohio State University – Newark today! I’ll be presenting two papers. The first is “For the Benefit of the Private Soldiers: The History of the Grand Army of the Republic in Ohio,” which was my research paper for History 310 (Ohio History) last fall. The second paper is a portion of my senior honors thesis. I’m a bit nervous about that one as (1) so many of my friends have told me they’re going to that session and (2) I’ve had to use just different sections of the thesis because the whole thing it too long to present. I hope what I present makes sense!

If you happen to be in the area this morning, stop by the Reese Center on the OSU-N campus. There are 3 sessions: 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30. There are also two presentations this afternoon: one by a history prof at Denison talking about local history (yea!) and the other by an author talking about historical fiction.

Tombstone Tuesday: Daniel Lewis, fireman

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus. Photograph taken by Amy Crow, August 8, 2008. All rights reserved.

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis, Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus. Photograph taken by Amy Crow, August 8, 2008. All rights reserved.

This impressive monument is in Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus. The imagery on the stone immediately tell you it is the grave of a firefighter — the hydrant with the hose that outlines the stone, a helmet, a ladder, an axe, and a lantern. The inscription reads:


In Memory Of

Capt. Daniel S. Lewis

Born May 15, 1854

Entered the Service

Oct. 18, 1881

Gave his life to the city

April 26, 1903

Lewis, captain of Engine Company No. 11,  was killed fighting a fire in the Brunson and Union Company buildings at the corner of Long Street and High Street in downtown Columbus.  According to a newspaper account, he was killed when a wall collapsed and fell on him. “His body was cremated in the ruins.”

“The fire was attended by many exciting incidents, the most thrilling being the rescue of Philip Nation, a grocer, from his apartments on the fourth floor of the Brunson Building where he had been hemmed in by flames. The fire started in the Brunson Building and its progress was fanned by a brisk wind from the north. This building was occupied on the ground floor by the Walkover Shoe Company, Tallmadge Hardware Company, and Bott Brothers’ saloon. The upper floors were occupied mainly as living apartments, the exceptions being the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union rest room and the art studios of Maurice Hague and H. P. Hayden. 

“Smoke was first seen issuing from the basement under the saloon. The fire smoldered for half an hour and the firemen thought they had it under control, when the flames suddenly burst from an upper story”


The New York Times, April 27, 1903, p. 1. Available online at