Sunday, January 29, 2012


Lillian Q. Tobey came from a family of sisters who were librarians.  She spent much of her life living with her sisters Ellen (who was also an NYPL librarian) and Grace (who worked at the Brooklyn Public Library).

Lillian Tobey was born in Portland, Maine, but her family had moved to New York City by the 1890s.  So far, I have been unable to find any information on Lillian Tobey’s educational background. 
In 1897 both Lillian and Ellen Tobey were assistants in the New York Free Circulating Library and continued to serve there until the NYFCL joined NYPL in 1901.

In 1905 Ellen became Branch Librarian at Bloomingdale, and Lillian transferred to serve as her First Assistant.  When Ellen Tobey was transferred in 1907, Lillian was promoted to replace her as Branch Librarian.

In 1910 Lillian was transferred to be Branch Librarian at Washington Heights and after three years transferred again to head the Bond Street Branch.  The Bond Street building (the original headquarters of the NYFCL) was closed in 1918 and Tobey left NYPL.

From 1919-1929 Lillian Tobey worked in the library of the Brooklyn Museum, and it is not known why she left that position. 

Tobey died in Ocean Grove NJ in 1962, and her death certificate indicates she had lived in the area since at least 1948.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Gabriella J.D. Ackley received her education at St. Mary’s School in Knoxville Illinois. 1884-1886. It was an Episcopal girls school, but she is not listed as a graduate.  Ackley’s library training consisted of three courses in the Wisconsin summer school, in 1900 and 1901.

Her first known library job was in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, in 1902-1905.  She then became an organizer for the Wisconsin Library Commission and later served as head librarian in Watertown (WI), 1908-1912.  Ackley left Wisconsin to head a branch of the Chicago Public Library, 1912-1913.

In February 1914, Ackley wrote to Edwin Anderson asking for a job at NYPL.  She preferred one working with the public, explaining, “Of the little I know, I think I know and like best, books and humanity.”  Based on good recommendations from the Chicago Public Library, Ackley was hired the following month to be the First Assistant at the Fort Washington Branch.  She then served as Branch Librarian at the Yorkville (1916-1921), Aguilar (1922), and Bloomingdale branches.  Although she was 73 years old, Gabriella Ackley was still working when she died in 1941.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Harold Wheeler graduated from the Classical High School in Providence RI in 1906 and then entered Brown University.  While in college he worked in various positions at the Providence (RI) Public Library.  After graduating with honors from Brown in 1910, Wheeler became a reading room assistant at the Library of Congress.  He quit LC in 1912 to attend the New York State Library School and finished the two-year degree program in a single year.
Harold Wheeler was immediately hired as one of the three men who were hired to head NYPL branches in the 1913-1917 period.  Wheeler started as the First Assistant at the Hamilton Fish Park Branch (serving under another of the three men, Frederick Goodell) and within six weeks Wheeler was promoted to take over the branch.

In March 1916, Wheeler resigned from NYPL to become the head of the School of Mines and Metallurgy Library at the University of Missouri at Rolla.  He left academia in 1921 to head the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, Michigan.  At Muskegon, he was credited with more than doubling circulation in his first 5 years there.  Wheeler died suddenly in 1928.

Harold L. Wheeler was the younger brother of Joseph L. Wheeler (1884-1970) who was Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1926-1945.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Margarethe (also called Marga) Kortenbeutel received her BA from the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College) in 1933 and already knew that she wanted to be a librarian.  She began as an NYPL substitute in 1934 during the midst of the Great Depression.  Ten years later she was still in an entry-level position when she was asked to be a witness at the US Senate Committee on Education and Labor hearings on the financial plight of white collar workers.  Kortenbeutel, who had created a monthly list of her itemized expenses, was asked to explain how she lived on her limited budget, and the New York Times noted that her “case history” captured the committee’s attention. 

Kortenbeutel testified that she had no extra money at the end of the month although she sewed her own clothes and got “one good cheap meal a day at the library”.  That meal was a shared one cooked by the branch staff (on Library time) at a cost of 25¢ each, and she noted that for “about everyone this dinner is the main meal of the day.”  Before she left the witness table, Kortenbeutel was asked why she stayed at the Library given her financial hardships. “I am quite willing to stay,” she replied. “I happen to be very interested in my work, and I like working with all kinds of people.”  She then added, “I am really not interested in just making money, but I would like not to starve to death.”

Kortenbeutel’s financial situation improved somewhat the following year when she was promoted to be the First Assistant at the Ottendorfer Branch.  In 1947 she was promoted to Branch Librarian at the 67th Street Branch and retired in 1970.

Today would be Margarethe Kortenbeutel’s 99th birthday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Anne (or Annie) Shuck was born in Texas and graduated from Kansas City (M0) High School in 1905.  In 1909 she received her AB in Greek from Wellesley College, and afterwards she taught mathematics at Central High School in Fort Worth, 1909-1913.
Shuck married George Howard Hutchins, probably in 1913. 

By 1917 she was in the New York City area working as the Assistant Director for the US War Camp Community Service.

Anne Hutchins attended the US Secretarial School in 1920 and worked as a stenographer in the NYPL Library School, 1921-1923.  During this same period she also was a student in the Library School and earned her one-year certificate in 1923.  She took additional courses in 1925-1926 but never finished the two-year program.

After graduation Hutchins became the stenographer for the Chief of the Circulation Department.  In 1925 she was transferred to be the First Assistant at the Hamilton Fish Park Branch.  In 1926 she was promoted to Branch Librarian at the High Bridge Branch and served there until 1943 when she was promoted to be Superintendent of the Extension Division.  Hutchins retired from NYPL in 1952.

Anne Hutchins is believed to be the only member of the Christian Scientist church among the Branch Librarians.

Today would be the 124th birthday of Anne S. Hutchins.