Mary Cutler Fairchild

Anything but by the book


Born in Dalton on June 21, 1855, Mary Salome Cutler Fairchild is noted for her establishment and teaching in the field of library sciences.

Her father, Artemas Hubbard Cutler, was a papermaker, and her mother was his second wife, Lydia Wakefield.

According to American National Biography Online, Fairchild, after graduating high school, was offered a position in a community library but turned it down to attend Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College).

After an early career in teaching, her interest was piqued by the development of what would be known as the American Library Association. In 1884, she accepted a position as a cataloger at Columbia University from Melvil Dewey (founder of the Dewey Decimal System), and later joined him in Albany, N.Y., at his School of Library Economy, which was later named Albany Library School and New York State Library School.

During her career, Fairchild remained a driving force at this library and in her field, training some 500 students in librarianship after earning her bachelor's degree in library science from the University of the State of New York. She also served as head librarian of the New York State Library for the Blind in Albany, an ode to her father, who was blind.

She suffered health issues throughout her life that challenged her career, but left a legacy of written articles on topics ranging from establishing a children's library at home to fair wages for women librarians.

— Jenn Smith, The Berkshire Eagle



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