History on the Page: Mansfield Memorial Library Board Bookplates, designed by Louis Lamoreux

This week’s blog post is inspired by a piece of history found within the pages of a book in the history section of the library.

Donations to libraries have often been designated in honor of the donor or in honor of a person chosen by the donor by placing a bookplate inside the book. One such bookplate used in books in the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library in the past bears this image:

Black and white image of a scanned woodcut bookplate, with a central image of the Mansfield Public Library. The words "Free Public Library" are easily visible under the pediment. Under the image are the words "Ex LIbris" and around the image are the words "Mansfield Memorial Library Board."

“Ex libris” is a common phrase on bookplates, especially in personal libraries, as it is Latin for “from the books” or “from the library,” usually followed by the name of the individual or organization that owns the book.

This bookplate indicates that the book was donated to the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library by the Mansfield Memorial Library Board.

As previously discussed in this blog, the Memorial Library Association (or Board, later) was the originator of the public library in Mansfield. The membership of the Memorial Library Association was, from its foundation, female, although men could become honorary members. The organization was founded in 1887 and first had its library in the Memorial Building, also known as the Soldiers and Soldiers Hall, on Park Avenue West.

Memorial Building, Mansfield, Ohio. From the Sherman Room Digital Archives.

However, when the Carnegie library on West Third was built (what is now the Main Library), the Memorial Library Association was replaced in its oversight role by a board of trustees appointed by the city. Instead, the Memorial Library Association carried on its work in supporting the library by hosting lectures, fundraising, and donating materials to the library. This is where our bookplate comes onto the scene, placed into books that were donated to the library, especially when the books were donated in memory of someone.

While the Memorial Library Association had been supporting and donating materials to the library since it opened in 1908, this particular bookplate was used beginning in about 1941. In the Mansfield News Journal from April 27th, 1941, the bookplate made its public debut, and is cited as having been designed by Louis Lamoreux, a local architect best known for designing the “Big House” at Louis Bromfield’s Malabar Farm, now Malabar Farm State Park [Mansfield News Journal, 27 April 1941, page 14]. Some of the early books to bear this bookplate were North American Wildflowers, which was donated in memory of Mrs. Frank Black, and Flowers and Fruit Prints of the Early 18th and 19th Centuries, donated in memory of Mrs. Henry Weaver. Both women were past presidents of the Memorial Library Board.

Have you come across anything seemingly inconspicuous that was hiding years of history lately?


Mansfield Librarians: Mildred Carolyn Furry

Mildred Carolyn Furry was born on July 31, 1908, to Archibald Beach Furry and Carrie Metzger in New Enterprise, Bedford, Pennsylvania.  Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania where Archibald, or Arch as he was known, worked in the steel mill.  Mildred’s uncle, Lorenzo Furry, was a teacher and later supervisor of the public schools in Johnstown. This is most likely where Mildred got her love of education.  Arch and Lorenzo shared a duplex for many years at 624-626 Somerset St. in Johnstown, Pa.  In 1924 Mildred, known as “Mig” in her yearbook, graduated from Greater Johnstown High School with her cousin, Lorenzo’s daughter, Mary, who would also become a teacher. A short time later, Mildred enrolled in Ashland College, today Ashland University.  Her roommate while at Ashland was Maude Edwards.  Maude and Mildred would often take weekend trips up to see Maude’s parents near Medina, Ohio.  Miss Edwards would teach at Shiloh High School and later in Brunswick, Ohio.  She became one of the first female high school principals in Ohio.  Edwards Middle School, recently razed, in Brunswick was named in her honor.  Mildred graduated from Ashland in 1928 with a degree in teaching.

1924 Greater Johnstown High School Yearbook
624-626 Somerset St. Johnstown, Pa. From Google Maps

Miss Furry began work immediately in the New Haven township schools teaching English and home economics.  In the early 1930s, Mildred would return home to Johnstown, Pa., living with her parents and teaching at Cochran Junior High School.  During this time, she also earned her master’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.  On June 29, 1944, Mildred entered the United States Naval Reserve.  The Women’s branch of the Naval Reserve was created in July of 1942 to release officers and men for sea duty.  The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES, served in 900 stations across the U.S.  Mildred served in Miami in the 7th Naval District.  Mildred left active service on February 8, 1946.  When her service ended, Mildred returned to Ashland College becoming dean of women.  In 1952 it was reported that Mildred was enrolled in Western Reserve University and that she would receive her “master of science in library science [that] summer.”

1952 was also the year Charles Kelley King died and left his estate to the private foundation which operates Kingwood Center today.  King had wanted a library to be established which contained materials related to the activities of Kingwood Center.  It was clear they would need a librarian to establish a collection and help visitors with research.  Miss Furry was hired on June 30, 1953, as the first librarian at Kingwood Center.  King had left a collection of books on gardening and birds and Miss Furry quickly added to the collection by purchasing the library of James Vick of Rochester, N. Y.  Vick was a pioneer of “retail catalog distribution of seeds and plants.”  Allene Holt Gramly notes, in Kingwood Center, The legacy of Charles Kelley King, published in 1988, that the library contained over seven thousand volumes.  Miss Furry gave talks and presented programs regularly about the work being done by the library and Kingwood Center.

Arthur P. Petit (1962) and Mildred C. Petit (1973) Ashland College Yearbook (Pine Whispers)

On December 28, 1956, Miss Furry married Arthur P. Petit, director of admissions at Ashland College.  The marriage was short as Arthur P. Petit died at the age of 58 after suffering a heart attack on May 7, 1962.  On September 1, 1964, Mildred Petit once again returned to Ashland College, this time as an associate librarian.  She would also curate the special books collection at the college.  Mildred Petit retired in 1975 and shared a residence in Ashland with her old college roommate Maude Edwards, who had never married and retired a few years earlier.  Maude Edwards died on August 27, 1983, followed by Mildred Petit on December 12, 1985.