My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Longest Obituary I've Ever Seen

I've had the obituary for a good 12 years, and it finally got read as I typed it.  With one hand on a magnifying glass and the other in spell check, the below is what was written.  The photo at the left was in the middle of the obituary and it is a etching of my 2nd great-grandfather. Because this is about him, and how I found this brings back sentimental feelings of joy. I have not been able to locate a death certificate.  It took another year before I discovered where he was buried....in my own back yard, so to speak!  Sections in red might be of interest to some readers.

“THE NEW YORK TIMES, FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 1894

Dr. William F. Poole Dead

HE MADE LIBRARIANSHIP KNOWN AS A PROFESSION.

A Lover of Books, He spent His Life Among Them—As Librarian and Organizer He Developed His Profession on Lines of Greatest Utility—His indexes Valued on Two Continents—His Recent Great Work in Chicago.

CHICAGO, March 1—William Frederick Poole, LL D., died at 8 o’clock this morning in his home in Evanston.  His serious illness had caused alarm among his friends for several days, and his death was not unexpected.

Few men have done more to elevate and dignify the profession of librarian and to develop it along the lines of practical utility than William Frederick Poole.  Forty years ago librarianship was hardly known as a profession.  Most of the librarians of that day were men who had drifted into the pursuit from some other occupation in life.  Few, if any, chose it as a life work.  Now it has come to be recognized as a profession demanding and compensating first-rate abilities.

Dr. Poole was born in Salem, Mass., Dec. 24, 1821, the son of Ward and Eliza (Wilder) Poole.  He was a descendant of the seventh generation of John Poole, who came from Reading, England, with the first settlers of the Massachusetts Colony, resided in Cambridge in 1632, and in 1635 was the leading proprietor in the settlement of the town of Reading, Mass.  Mr. Poole attended school in Danvers (later South Danvers, and now, Peabody) until he was twelve years old.  Between his twelfth and seventeenth years he was out of school, learning the jeweler’s trade in Keene, N.H.  In 1835 the family moved to Worcester, Mass., where he spent a year in farming, with his father.  He then returned to Danvers, engaged a year in mercantile business, and later, in the employ of an uncle, learned the ancestral trade of tanner.

Finding himself not quite at home either as jeweler, farmer, or tanner, he got back to his books, and his seventeenth birthday found him fitting for college at the Leicester Academy.  In 1842 he entered Yale College, but after one year of study was obliged to stop to earn sufficient money with which to complete his course.  The next three months were devoted to teaching, and then he returned to Yale, entering as a sophomore in 1846, and graduating in 1849 in the same class with President Dwight.  In the last tern of his sophomore year, Mr. Poole was appointed Assistant Librarian of the Society of Brothers in Unity, which has a library of 10,000 volumes.  He had been in the position but a few weeks when he saw that the great need of the students was some mean of ascertaining what the bound sets of periodicals contained.  He went about supplying this want by preparing an index to them, and in a year he had the work so far advanced that the society voted to print it.

While the printing was in progress Mr. George P. Putnam of this city assumed the whole pecuniary responsibility of its publication, and the work appeared in 1848, with his imprint, under the title of “Index to Reviews and Other Periodicals to Which the Indexes Have Been Published.”  The entire edition was soon exhausted, and the author immediately began the preparation of a larger and more comprehensive work on the same general plan.  With all this extra work, young Poole maintained a rank of scholarship which secured him an election among the first to be the Phi Beta Kappa Society of the college.  The first year after his graduation he spent in completing his “Index to Periodical Literature,” which was not, hover published until 1853.  The first “Index” contained 154 pages octavo; the second 521 pages.  The third edition of the “Index” appeared in 1882, and contained 1,489 pages, royal octavo.  This was prepared with the co-operation of the American Library Association and the Library Association of Great Britain.  The “First Supplement” to this index was published in 1887.

In 1851 Mr. Poole became Assistant Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, and the next year Librarian of the Boston Mercantile Library.  During his four years in that position he prepared and printed a dictionary catalogue of the library on the “title-a-line” principle which has been so widely followed since, and also brought out his second “Index.”  From 1856 until January, 1869 Mr. Poole was librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, which had, at the time he became its director, 100,000 volumes.  During his administration, with the assistance of Mr. Charles Russell Lowell, a brother of James Russell Lowell, the excellent catalogue of the library, since printed in five large volumes, was begun.  It was completed by his successor.

On leaving the Athenaeum, Dr. Poole was occupied during the next year as a library expert for the organization and general management of libraries.  He organized during that year the Bronson Library at Waterbury, Conn., and the Athenaeum Library at St. Johnsbury, Vt.; rearranged and catalogued the Naval Academy Library at Annapolis, Md.; selected and purchased the books and had the general direction of the Newton and Easthampton (Mass.) Public Libraries.  In the Fall of that year he was invited to reorganize and take charge of the Cincinnati Public Library.  This invitation he accepted, and for four years held the office of Librarian.  During these years the Cincinnati Library Building was erected, at that time the finest and largest building of the kind in this country.  In October, 1873, he was appointed Librarian of the Chicago Public Library, and entered upon his new duties Jan. 1, 1874.

The institution had then a reading room and about 700 volumes, which had not yet been catalogued or made accessible to the public.  May 1, 1874, the library was opened with 18,000 volumes.  In less than two years it had increased to 57,000, and now is said to have the largest circulation of any single library in the country.  During his years of connection with this library Dr. Poole was often called upon for advice and assistance in the formation and management of libraries throughout the country, especially in the Northwest, where his influence in favor of the public-library system was great.  In 1887 he was elected Librarian of the Newberry Library in Chicago.  This is a library of reference solely, and was founded by the late Walter L. Newberry of Chicago, who left $3,000,000 for the purpose.

This library is the crowning work of Dr. Poole’s life.  Its collection was begun in 1887, but it was not until last year that the beautiful building erected for it was occupied.  The building faces

Washington Square
, on the north side of the City of Chicago.  It is Spanish-Romanesque in architecture and built of granite.  Only one wing, the frontage on one of the four sides of the block on which the building stands, has been erected, but this is very imposing.

When completed, the building will hold 4,000,000 volumes.  An auditorium to seat 475 people, is one of the features of this building.  This was provided to carry on university extension work, in which Dr. Poole was particularly interested.  He was the one to inaugurate it in Chicago, and he was actively engaged in it up to the time of his death.

The number of volumes in the library is 117,000, and there are 46,000 pamphlets.  These were carefully selected by Dr. Poole to meet the requirements of the scholars.  The department of biography in large and complete, and a remarkable collection of the sources of American history, including biography, genealogy, State and local town histories and other original documents, is one of the features of the library.  The department of music is said to be the best and largest in the country.  These are only a few of the departments in which the library excels.

Dr. Poole so outlined the work that his successor, whoever he may be, will have no difficulty in carrying on the work of making the Newberry the best reference library in the country, as he planned.

Dr. Poole was among the first to recognize the value of concerted action among librarians to advance the interests of their work.  He was a member of the convention of librarians held in this city in September, 1853, which was the first meeting of the kind in the world.  Upon the organization of the American Library Association, in 1876, he was made one of its Vice Presidents, and continued in that office until his election in 1885 to the Presidency of the association.  He was one of the party from this country which attended the first conference of English librarians in London in 1877, and was a Vice President of that meeting.  Dr. Poole devoted much attention to library architecture and his several papers on this subject attracted much attention, both in this country and in Europe.  He was a leader in the movement for practical utility and convenience in library buildings, as opposed to the old conventional style, in which use was sacrificed to impressiveness of architectural effect.  In other departments of library arrangement he manifested no less activity and fertility of practical ideas.  The “Report on Public Libraries,” issued in 1876 by the United States Bureau of Education, contained several papers by him, prominent among them one on “The organization and Management of Public Libraries,” which gave practical directions on all essential points connected with this work, and is still generally recognized as a standard authority on the subject.

Aside from the works already named, Mr. Poole’s writing were mainly in the direction of American history and historical criticism.  He was especially interested in the early history of New England and that of the West, and for thirty years was a constant writer for the periodical press on subjects connected with these studies.  Controverting the charges brought against the New England clergy of fomenting the witchcraft persecution, he published several articles in 1885-9 which attracted general attention.  Chief among them was the one called, “Cotton Mather and Salem Witchcraft,” in the North American Review for April, 1889.  In the “Memorial History of Boston” he wrote the chapter called “Witchcraft in Boston.”  In the North American also appeared his articles on “The Popham Colony,” October, 1868, and “The Ordinance of 1787,” April, 1878, the former intended to dispose of the Maine claims to priority of settlement over Massachusetts, and the latter for the first time giving the secret history of the famous ordinance.

In 1870 he discovered in the Massachusetts archives a manuscript of Gov. Thomas Hutchinson on the “Witchcraft Delusion of 1692,” which he printed in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for October, 1870, and also a separate form, with copious notes, illustrating the bibliography of New England witchcraft.  He also wrote two other pamphlets on the subject of witchcraft and three anonymous pamphlets on the dictionary controversy – “The Battle of the Dictionaries,” 1858; “Websterian Orthography: A Reply to Dr. Noah Webster’s Calumniators,: 1858, and “The Orthographical Hobgoblin,” 1859.  In 1887 Mr. Poole reprinted a rare and curious work which appeared in London in 1854, (the first printed history of the Massachusetts Colony) entitled :Wonder-Working Providence of Slon’s Saviour in New England,” to which, he wrote an elaborate introduction of 154 quarto pages, besides preparing an index.  His “Anti-Slavery Opinion Before 1800: was based on a paper he read before the Cincinnati Literary Club and was printed in Cincinnati in 1872.

In 1874-5 Dr. Poole edited in Chicago a literary monthly called The Owl, and was also a constant contributor to The Dial after it was started in 1880.  His work was always to the nature of a plea for judicial fairness and candor in historical writing, and his pen was constantly on the alert to discover and expose the pet fallacies of the vilifies of the fathers  of New England.

Dr. Poole for a number of years was the President of the American Historical Society, a member of the American Antiquarian Society, and of the Essex Institute, and corresponding member of the Historical Societies of Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin, and various other States.  He received the honorary degree of LL D. from the Northwestern University in 1882.  Mr. Poole wasmarried Nov. 22, 1854 to Miss Fanny M. Gleason, daughter of the late Dr. Ezra W. Gleason of Boston.  Of seven children born to them, four are living.  Dr. Poole’s personal qualities were such as to contribute in no small degree to the success that he achieved.  Of commanding and yet affable and pleasing address, he combined in a rare degree the force needed for large executive responsibilities with the tact which secured the hearty loyalty and the affection of his subordinates.  He imparted his own enthusiasm and his eminently practical views in library work to a large number of those who are now filling places of importance in the library profession having served an apprenticeship under him.”


Note: I had the obituary scanned and saved in jpeg format.  Thank you Mark for doing this for me.
(But I can't read it!)  But....See this from the New York Times.


7 comments:

Carol said...

WOW, what a great obit and bio! Loved reading it!

Claudia's thoughts said...

I have to agree with you that is one of the longest I have seen too. I wonder what it cost back then to have that printed?

T.K. said...

Wow, Barbara, that is SO COOL! What a career he had! And, as obits go, isn't this the one any genealogist would LOVE to find?

Nolichucky Roots said...

What a legacy! I almost cheered reading it when I got to the Newberry Library. It's my favorite spot in Chicago. I'll remember Dr. Poole every time I'm there.

Barbara Poole said...

Thanks everybody who took the time to read it, it was long! Even with all what was written, it didn't mention where he was buried...I found out much later. And, haven't found a death certificate, so I don't know what he died from. Nolichucky Roots, you are SO lucky, I've never been in the library. See: http://lifefromtheroots.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-gift-from-newberry-library.html

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

Yes...this is long, but it reflects his community leadership and importance. He was clearly given the respect he earned from his life of charity.

Barbara said...

Kathleen, How nice that you read it, and I believe you appreciated the words. Thank you.