Frederic Cook Morehouse Memorial Library (1934)


ON THE FEAST of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1933, the Frederic Cook Morehouse Memorial Library was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin F. P. Ivins, D.D., Bishop of Milwaukee. Members of the Morehouse family and officers and employes of the Morehouse Publishing Co. were present.

The Morehouse Library is in the building that houses the publishing company and the offices of The Living Church, at 1801 W. Fond du Lac avenue, Milwaukee. It is established and maintained by these as a memorial to their former head, and is available as a reference library for the clergy and the public, who are cordially invited to make free and frequent use of it.

The library is housed in the former office of the late Frederic Cook Morehouse, which has been enlarged for the purpose. Although it is small, numbering only some twelve hundred volumes, it contains some valuable material not available elsewhere in Wisconsin, and much that is useful for reference, especially on the history, doctrine, and records of the Episcopal Church.

The nucleus of the library is a part of the personal library of Mr. Morehouse, whose name it bears. This personal library, which was a fairly extensive one, was divided into three parts after the owner’s death, June 27, 1932. The books dealing with municipal government, of which Mr. Morehouse had a representative collection, were given by his executors to the City Club of Milwaukee, of which he had served as president. Many of the general literary works and books of reference were given to the Milwaukee Public Library. The religious and theological works, as well as some of the historical and general ones, were retained as a basis for the Memorial Library. To these have been added other publications designed to make the library an up-to-date, well-equipped one, with its chief emphasis upon religious books, particularly those of the Episcopal Church and those relating to Christian unity. It is hoped that as the library grows, this emphasis will be maintained, so that in years to come it may have a really exceptional collection of books.

As is to be expected in a library founded in memory of the editor of a Church paper, the religious press is well represented. The library maintains bound files of The Living Church and the Living Church Annual, of which Frederic C. Morehouse was editor, and also of the American Church Monthly, Anglican Theological Review, Cathedral Age, Christian East, Christian Century, Churchman, Church Tunes, Commonweal, Green Quarterly, Guardian, Historical Magazine of the Episcopal Church, Irénikon, Spirit of Missions, and Theology. There are also complete files of certain Church periodicals no longer in existence, notably Findings in Religious Education, the Young Churchman, and the Church Eclectic. Secular periodicals of which bound files are maintained include Current History, the Literary Digest, Review of Reviews, and Time.

The Morehouse Library has an exceptionally complete collection of year books of the Episcopal Church. Beginning with Sword’s Pocket Almanac for 1827, continued to 1858, these include the Churchman’s Almanac, 1838-52, Church Almanac, 1852-91, American Church Almanac, 1893-1921, Whittaker’s Churchman’s Almanac, 1874-80, Churchman’s Year Book, 1870, and the Living Church Annual, 1882 to the present. The last named, now the only year book of the Church and much more inclusive than any of its predecessors, was a quarterly from 1890 to 1902. Year books of the Church of England, the Roman Church, and Protestant groups are included as well. The various clergy directories are also represented, including Lloyd’s, which has now become Stowe’s, and Crockford’s, covering between them the entire Anglican communion.

There is a complete file of General Convention journals, including that of the single General Council held during the Civil War by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. The library is also rich in official publications of the Church, such as reports and publications of the old Board of Missions, the National Council, and other agencies. Most of these were generously given to the library by the Department of Publicity of the national Church.

The Morehouse Library includes a good representation of liturgical publications, including various editions of the Book of Common Prayer—American, English, Scottish, Irish, Canadian, and translations used in various missionary jurisdictions throughout the Anglican communion. The Standard Prayer Books of 1892 and 1928 are on its shelves, the former being on loan from the diocese of Milwaukee.

The library plans to devote particular attention to pamphlet material related to religious and historical subjects. In the former category, a series of “Emergency Tracts” published by the Young Churchman Co. in 1891 and 1892 are worth noting, since they are now quite rare. They are devoted to a defense of the faith, and particularly of the Catholic character of the Church, in the light of current attacks, and have been given to the library by some of the heirs of the late Bishop Webb of Milwaukee. In the latter may be mentioned the publications of the Foreign Policy Association and the Carnegie Peace Foundation.

There have been a number of highly appreciated gifts to the library since its announcement last June. Among these, in addition to the one already mentioned, are a combination Bible and Church of England Prayer Book published in the 1660s and several other religious books given by Mrs. Isabella M. Butter of Milwaukee, originally belonging to her grandfather, William Arnold (1794-1863). Another old Bible, published in 1615, has been given by the Rev. A. L. Byron-Curtiss. Miss Anne Ambridge, grand-daughter of the Rev. Dr. William Bliss Ashley (1811-1893), has donated some interesting books from his library, including a book of hymns published in 1828 and a devotional book entitled The Religious Souvenir published in 1837. Washington Cathedral has contributed a complete file of the Cathedral Age, and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge has made it possible to obtain an almost complete file of Theology.

Several year books and Church almanacs have been given by Miss Alice L. Snyder. The Rev. G. MacLaren Brydon, historiographer of the diocese of Virginia, has contributed valuable material on the Colonial Church. Other contributors, in addition to various members of the Morehouse family, include Bishop Parsons of California, the Rev. Robert D. Vinter, Miss Ruth Brewster Sherman, and Miss Sue B. White.

The Morehouse Memorial Library is anxious to add other worthwhile books, of particular interest to Churchmen, and would greatly welcome further contributions from interested individuals. Particularly desired are back files of the Spirit of Missions, the Anglican Theological Review, and the Churchman, unusual Prayer Book and liturgical items, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, text books and works in the field of religious education, diocesan and parochial histories, biographies of noted Churchmen in all ages, out of print Church books and pamphlets of all kinds. The editor of The Living Church, who is also one of the custodians of the Frederic Cook Morehouse Memorial Library, would welcome communications from any readers interested in donating, or in leaving by will, items such as these to the library, where they will be permanently preserved, catalogued, and readily available for reference.

The Living Church (Milwaukee), January 13, 1934, pp. 339-340.

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