Melvil Dewey

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Melvil Dewey
Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey

December 10, 1851
DiedDecember 26, 1931(1931-12-26) (aged 80)
Other namesMelvil Dewey
Melvil Dui
EducationAmherst College
Occupation(s)librarian, resort developer, reformer
Known forDewey Decimal Classification
Spouse(s)Annie R. Godfrey (1878)
Emily McKay Beal (1924)
RelativesGodfrey Dewey (son)

Melville Louis Kossuth (Melvil) Dewey (December 10, 1851 – December 26, 1931) was an American librarian and educator. He invented the Dewey Decimal library classification system.

Early life[change | change source]

Dewey was born on December 10, 1851, in Adams Center, New York. He attended Alfred University in 1870[1] and then Amherst College. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1874 and a master's in 1877.[2]

Career[change | change source]

While still a student, he founded the Library Bureau, a company that sold index-cards and filing-cabinets used in libraries and businesses.[3]

He developed his book classification system based on a decimal numbering system while working in the Amherst library. He published a first edition in 1876.[4]

He was one of the founders of the American Library Association in 1876 and served for many years as editor of the Journal of the American Library Association.[5]

In the 1880's he took a position as librarian at Columbia University Libraries, where he developed one of the first training schools for librarians.[6]

Lake Placid Club[change | change source]

Dewey founded the Lake Placid Club in Lake Placid, New York in 1895 as a health club and retreat. The Winter Olympics were held there, mostly led by his son Godfrey[7]

Reforms[change | change source]

He advocated for spelling reform for the English language. At one point he changed the spelling of his name from "Melvile" to "Melvil," removing redundant letters. He also for a brief time wrote his surname as "Dui."[8] He also founded The Metric Bureau in 1876 to advocate for the United States to move to metric measurement.[9]

Personal life[change | change source]

Dewey married twice, first to Annie R. Godfrey, and then to Emily McKay Beal.[7] He and his first wife had one child, Godfrey.

He moved to Florida and founded Lake Placid, Florida. He died of a stroke there in 1931.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Anna Elliott (May 1981). "Melvil Dewey: A Singular and Contentious Life" (PDF). Wilson Library Bulletin. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2008.
  2. Wiegand, Wayne A. (1996). Irrepressible reformer : a biography of Melvil Dewey. Chicago: American Library Association. p. 14. ISBN 9780838906804.
  3. Michael Dewe (1968), "Historical aspects of library supply". In: Library World Vols 70–72, Grafton (eds), pp. 27–28.
  4. Wiegand, W. A. (1998). "The "Amherst Method" : The Origins of the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme". In: Libraries & Culture. Vol. 33, No. 2, Spring 1998.
  5. Wiegand, Wayne A. (1996). Irrepressible reformer : a biography of Melvil Dewey. Chicago: American Library Association. ISBN 9780838906804.
  6. Sarah K. Vann. Training for Librarianship Before 1923. Chicago: American Library Association, 1961. p. 28.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Dr. Melvil Dewey dead in Florida". The New York Times. December 27, 1931. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  8. "Dewey Resources". 13 July 2020.
  9. Hector Vera, "Melvil Dewey, Metric Apostle", MetricToday: The U.S. Metric Association Newsletter, vol. 45, no. 4, July–August 2010, pp. 1, 4–6.