Dorothy Porter Wesley was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1905

The Dewy Decimal System organizes library material in a structure hierarchically by disciplines, such as philosophy, social sciences, science, technology, and history.
It lists the categories, classes, and tables. It can be searched using a Relativ Index (their spelling).
There is a Wikipedia entry about the system. It is helpful for the history of the index, and some problems, such as how it has been used to categorize homosexuality, women, and the preference for Christianity. Ironically, there is no input about race.
Originally, books by Black authors or about Black subjects were not listed. There were few. Eventually, they were listed in the 900’s. The high 900’s. Uncategorized.
Dorothy Porter Wesley was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1905, graduated from Howard University with a BA in 1928. She worked at NY Library in the Black collection where a senior librarian mentored her and helped develop her ideas of how to organize a subculture. Eventually, she earned an MS in 1932 becoming the first Black woman to graduate from Columbia’s library school. Her love was Black history. When she started as the Librarian at Howard University in 1930, there was little organization but consensus on how to proceed. It soon became clear the Dewy Decimal System was too generic for a research tool used specifically for the Black experience. So Dorothy Porter Wesley developed one fitting her belief that each book should fit into the topic section. i.e.: A book on history belonged in the history section. The Carnegie Library of Howard University would continue to grow with Dorothy Porter Wesley at the helm over the next 4 decades.
Over her career, she would help many students and historians, including Langston Hughs, John Hope Franklin, and Henry Gates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s