920 Biography, genealogy, insignia (December 10th)

Melvil Dewey was born on December 10th in 1851. You know — Dewey, as in Dewey decimal system.

Dr. Dewey had a passion for efficiency, for time and labor saving methods. He was born at Adams Centre, Jefferson County, N.Y. on Dec. 10, 1851. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1874 and received a Master’s degree there in 1877. While in college he was honorary assistant in the library, desiring to learn its technique. He decided that much could be done in education by building up the library systems and set about to apply his ideas. The college library drifted into his management, and at the end of his junior year he was asked by the trustees to become acting librarian.

It was here that he developed the system of classifying and cataloguing books by decimal numbers, a system now known by his name and used in practically all libraries in this country.

New York Times obituary, 1931

Emily Dickinson was born on this date in 1830.

Emily Dickinson selected her own society, and it was rarely that of other people. She preferred the solitude of her white-washed poet’s room, or the birds, bees, and flowers of her garden to the visitations of family and friends. But for three occasions in her life she never left her native Amherst, MA; for the last twenty of her fifty-six years, she rarely left her house. And yet her reclusive existence in no way restricted her abundant life of the imagination. Her letters and poems, all except seven published posthumously, revealed her to be an inspired visionary and true original of American literature.

PBS: I Hear America Singing

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Emily Dickinson Museum

Dick Bavetta is 72 today. He is a referee in the NBA. Still.

Tommy Kirk is 70 today. Kirk was in Disney films Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson and The Absent-Minded Professor. Kirk was fired by Walt Disney personally in 1963 when it was learned he was gay (and having sex with a minor).

Susan Dey of “The Partridge Family” is 59.

Rod Blagojevich is 55 today.

Four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh is 51. Branagh has been nominated for adapted screenplay (Hamlet), best short film, best actor and best director.

Summer Phoenix (born Summer Joy Bottom) is 33 today. Her siblings are River (died 1993), Rain, Joaquin and Liberty. Her husband is Casey Affleck.

“Hoss” Cartwright was born 83 years ago today. That’s the actor Dan Blocker. Blocker was a west Texas boy, a teacher and coach at Carlsbad, New Mexico’s Eddy School among other places, before getting into acting. Hoss’s given name on Bonanza was Eric. Blocker, who weighed around 300 pounds, died in 1972 at age 43.

Philip Hart was born 99 years ago today. Hart was United States Senator from Michigan 1959-1976. The third of the three Senate office buildings is named for him — the vote to do so was 99-0. He died shortly after.

Chet Huntley was born 100 years ago today. After proving a popular success at the 1956 political conventions, the team of Huntley (from New York) and David Brinkley (from Washington) anchored the NBC evening news program. Huntley left the show in 1970. He died in 1974. “Good night, Chet” — “Good night, David — “and good night for NBC News.”

And happy birthday to my brother-in-law Ken (KenB on these pages). That’s a book he wrote below. Best wishes, Bro.

3 thoughts on “920 Biography, genealogy, insignia (December 10th)

  1. By the time I finished high school, I was so familiar with the Dewey Decimal System, I could pretty much figure out where everything was in the library. Then I went to a college that used the “other” library classification system (I don’t remember the name of it) and couldn’t find a thing without looking it up in the card catalog (yes, the old fashioned card catalog!).

  2. “In sum, DDC [Dewey Decimal Classification] uses fewer categories and sub-classifications and is consistent across disciplines, while LCC [Library of Congress Classification] is more highly subdivided with no consistency between disciplines. It’s understandable, therefore, that DDC has proven more useful to libraries catering to a wide range of needs such as public libraries and schools, while LCC is more widely used in libraries focused more on technical areas like colleges, universities, and government.”

    The Straight Dope: What’s so great about the Dewey Decimal System?

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