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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Notes from the Special Collections



Dartmouth College's first officially appointed Librarian was Bezaleel Woodward, undoubtedly the closest associate of Eleazar Wheelock from the early days of the latter's Indian School in Lebanon Crank (now Columbia), Connecticut, through the first decade of the College in Hanover, New Hampshire. [1] Born on 16 July 1745 in Lebanon, Connecticut, Woodward prepared under Wheelock's tutelage for Yale College, Class of 1764. This was followed by theological studies, also under Wheelock; he was licensed to preach, but was never ordained.

By the time Woodward had moved from Connecticut to Hanover, he had been given the very first faculty appointment of the College:

At the first meeting of the Trustees of Dartmouth College held agreeable to Charter at Keen in the Province of New Hampshire October 22d 1770. . . . Voted that Mr Bezaleel Woodward be and hereby is appointed a Tutor of this College. [2]

At the second meeting, the first to be held in Hanover (27 August 1771), the Board agreed to 'grant about an Acre . . . [of land] to Mr Bezal Woodward a Tutor . . . to accomodate his building Place.' Also granted were 'two Acres . . . to accomodate an Innholder' [Aaron Storrs]. [3]

Woodward's acre has traditionally been located in the northeast section of the area circumscribed by present Wentworth Street to the south, Elm Street to the north, and College and Main Streets to the east and west respectively. Aaron Storrs's lot of two acres covered what is the southwest corner of Main and Wheelock Streets, opposite the Hanover Inn, site of the Casque and Gauntlet Society. What is the evidence locating the Woodward lot (and by inference the site of the College's first library) in the area noted? While the pertinent deed of transfer of ownership of the land has not been found, we know the following:

A house lot with a house woodhouse cornhouse, & other outhouses standing thereon being the same on which the Said Bezal lately lived, bounded easterly on the highway [now College Street] passing by the same & by a small shop lot improved by Luke Dewey-Northerly a street or road [now Elm Street] crossing by said Deweys shop & from the same to rope ferry road Westerly Soly, & Wly on said rope ferry road & a house lot lately owned by Ezra Whitney & Southerly, Wly & Sly on land of Wm Woodward Esqr & Richard Langs land excepting one third part of the well & one third part of the Lane as conveyed to said William by sd Bezal- containing by estimation 1 1/4 acres, be it more or less-. [4]

Woodward came to own more land in the vicinity of this lot. He had earlier, on 11 December 1770, bought 'One certain River Lot lying in the Township of Hanover . . . being the fifty Eighth in Number. . . .' [5]

The River Lots, sixty-six in all and each about twenty-one acres in size, had been divided among the proprietors in 1762. The lots were 'all abutting on the river, and lying parallel to the northerly line of the town.' [6] On 15 July 1772 Wheelock gave Woodward fifteen acres of land in the southwest part of Hanover. On 14 December 1773, the trustees added one acre of land to the one given in 1771. [7]

After acquiring the land from the Trustees in August of 1771, Woodward and Storrs wasted little time to build:

1771 Proffr Woodwards house & Esqr Storrss houses were raised both on the same day & both two story [board and frame] buildings-the first in the village . . . [8]

Until that time only log huts had been built, except for a two-story frame house belonging to John House, north of the village near the site of the Fullington farm.

Not long after the house was finished, Wheelock solemnized the marriage of his daughter Mary, usually called 'Polly,' to Woodward on 6 February 1772. From this time on, the latter's entire public life would, in one capacity or other, be devoted to matters concerning the College, the town of Hanover, and the state of New Hampshire. [9] He soon (June 1772) received his first judicial appointment, that of justice of the peace, on the recommendation of Wheelock, who had received the same from Governor Wentworth in late January of 1771. [10] It was a most important office in those days. While both lacked knowledge of the law, they may have acquired it by use of a contemporary guide, Joseph Shaw's The Practical Justice of Peace. [11] More appointments followed; on 28 May 1773 Woodward became justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas of Grafton County and on 23 June of that year a trustee of the College and permanent clerk of the Board of Trustees. The position of librarian had probably been unofficially filled by Wheelock until the trustees appointed Woodward to the position at their meeting of 25 August 1773, in addition establishing the Dartmouth College Library and its first location:

Voted. That Bezaleel Woodward Esqr be, and hereby is appointed Librarian for this College.

Voted. That the Library be kept in the Southwest Chamber of Mr Woodward's house till ordered otherwise. [12]

Why had it taken almost three years to reach this decision, so central in the life of a college? Lack of space and the appropriate person to fill the post were good enough reasons, but an impetus to proceed may have been acquisition of a major legacy, as acknowledged by the trustees at their 25 May 1773 meeting:

. . . the Reverend Diodate Johnson late of Millington (deceas'd) did by his last Will and Testament bequeath to Dartmouth College the Sum of one hundred and fifty Pounds lawfull money together with his Library-[13]

Johnson had died at Millington, Connecticut, on 15 January 1773 at the early age of 27 1/2 years. Like Wheelock, Johnson had been a Berkeley Scholar, one of the highest scholastic honors Yale could bestow on young graduates. Speculation outruns facts as to why Johnson chose Dartmouth as one of two legatees, the second one being 'missions to the Southern Colonies.' [14] However, consideration should be given to the circumstance that Diodate Johnson and Woodward had been classmates at Yale, Class of 1764. At least three additional classmates (Job Lane, Titus Smith, and Eliphalet Steele) were close friends of Wheelock and his wife, as was a 1765 graduate, Theophilus Chamberlain. The latter, with Smith, spent time at Wheelock's school in preparing for missionary work; Wheelock assisted in their ordination. These men may well have influenced Johnson's decision to make his bequest to Dartmouth College. [15]

About one year after his appointment as librarian, Woodward began recording the circulation of books in a notebook, which cannot now be located. It was, however, briefly described in 1939 by the then College Archivist Mildred L. Saunders:

The Dartmouth College Library's circulation department opened for business in September, 1774, when Bezaleel Woodward, Tutor and Librarian, purchased a blank book and pasted into the cover the regulation of the College:

'That each student shall pay for books taken by him out of the Liby as follows viz--

For a Folio 6 d which may be kept 4 weeks Quarto 4 3 weeks

large 8vo 3 2 weeks

small 8vo 2 d 1 week

any others 1 1 week

Pamphlet 1/2 1/ 2 week'

This equitable solution of the problems of size and time provided, he entered the name of each member of the College, tutors first, in order of seniority, students after, and for three years kept a close account of the books drawn and the sums remitted [16]

An important and interesting contribution Woodward made to the history of the College Library resulted from a visit his friend David M'Clure (1748-1820) paid to Governor Wentworth. M'Clure, a pupil at the Indian School before entering Yale, Class of 1769, was one of Wheelock's closest associates and his first biographer. [17] He led a peripatetic existence as scholar and preacher, and spent the winter of 1774 in Portsmouth, where he counted Governor Wentworth among his friends. On 28 October he wrote to Wheelock:

His Excellency told me if he could obtain a Catalogue of the Books in the Library, he could very likely get an Addition to them-If a Catalogue of the Books could be sent to me by next Post, including the generous Legacy of Mr. Johnson's Books, I would present them to the Governor that he might then be able to draw up a List of those that are most wanted-The way he expects them is thro' Col°. Atkinson who has promised to make a generous grant in that way-

It might be of service to send with a Catalogue of Books at Dartmouth a List of those Books that are most wanted Historical & Miscellaneous.- [18]

And so it was that Woodward, as librarian, came to compile the first 'Catalogue of Books Belonging to Dartmouth College Library,' a draft

of which has been preserved, dated 'Jany 1775,' entirely in Woodward's writing. The books are divided, according to size, in four groups: folios (44 titles, 75 volumes), quartos (26, 46), large octavos (76, 158) and small octavos (63, 299) for a total of 209 titles, 578 volumes. In addition there were 'About 200 other Small second & third hand Books on Divinity And a great variety of Pamphlets on the same Subjects.' The first printed catalogue was issued in 1809, listing 2900 volumes. [19]

An undated catalogue of 'Doctr Wheelock's Library,' written in an unidentified hand, comprises 167 titles and 212 volumes. The books are arranged by shelf number: shelves 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7. It is not clear whether shelves 2 and 3 were used for another purpose or that pages of the manuscript are missing. This catalogue was probably compiled around the time of the first College Library list referred to above. Following the list of books on the sixth shelf there is a notation, 'At the end of this Shelf is a Number of Books to which Library they belong is uncertain-' [20]

The exact duration of Woodward's tenure as librarian is not entirely clear. At the meeting of the trustees on 20 May 1777 it was

Agreed that the Library be removed to such part of the College as the President shall judge proper, and that he with advice of the Tutors appoint a Librarian- [21]

The Library was removed to a room on the second floor of the 'principal College building . . . near the southeast corner of the Green,' [22]but it was not until more than two years later when, on 30 August 1779, the trustees 'Voted that Mr John Smith be and hereby is appointed librarian for the College-' [23]

Although Woodward's official tenure of four years as librarian may have ended in August 1777, he could have filled the post unofficially until the appointment of his successor. Removal of the books from the Woodward home had probably become necessary because of a need to use the library room for other purposes. By August 1777 there were two young sons, William, almost three, and George, one year old; the first child, Abigail, born in 1773, lived only two months.

Reasons can be adduced for considering Woodward as being the first archivist of the College as well as its first librarian. At the meeting of the trustees on 29 May 1773, it was 'Voted that Bezaleel Woodward Esqr (as he is at the College where it is necessary the Records be kept) be desired to officiate as Clerk of this Board, and take the Custody of the Records accordingly. . . .' At the meeting of 25 August 1773, the first College seal and handpress, donated by George Jaffrey, a royal councillor, treasurer of New Hampshire, and a trustee from1769 to 1788, was accepted. [24] That Woodward was the keeper of the seal is recorded by Jeremy Belknap in his account of a visit to Hanover at the time of Commencement in August 1774. He noted that

The college library is kept at Mr. Woodward's. It is not large, but there are some very good books in it. The seal is also kept there. They have two good globes of eighteen inches and a good solar microscope. [25]

In early 1774, soon after his appointment as librarian, Woodward began, in his meticulous way, to keep a private account book; the preserved original runs through 1794. It contains accounts with Dartmouth College and citizens of Hanover and vicinity. By custom, such running accounts, being kept up to date often for many years, could be settled at any time without currency changing hands after each transaction. For example, Woodward's account with John Paine, the taverner, covered more than a decade, from 26 April 1774 to 21 June 1784, before being settled (pp. 7-8). [26]

In the account with the 'Trustees of Dartmouth College,' Woodward recorded 'the expence making Shelves &c for the Library' (p. 2) and 'paying Mr Langdon for Boxes for Books' (p. 1). John Langdon was a bookseller in Boston where Woodward bought books for the College Library, for students to use in class, and possibly for his own use. At the time of his death, Woodward's personal library, according to probate inventory, consisted of fifty-two titles in sixty-one volumes. [27]

On 29 July 1775 Woodward charged the College 'To Use of a Room for the Library 2 1/3 years @ 30/- [£] 3.10-' (p. 2). This tells us that the Library was already, unofficially, established in the 'Southwest Chamber in Mr Woodward's house' as early as March 1773, about one month from the date of Woodward's marriage to Polly Wheelock and a half year prior to the official date of 25 August. Transport of books across New Hampshire is evident from a payment Woodward made in June 1774 to 'Mr Rogers for bringg 2 Boxes of Books from Winipesioke Pond to Orford' (p. 1). These books probably came from Governor Wentworth, whose estate in the town of Wolfeboro was just east of Lake Winnepesaukee, 'which Wentworth and his friends referred to as Winnipesiokett Pond.' [28]

A large number of other financial details recorded in the account book allow some insight into contemporary daily life in Hanover and Woodward's activities other than those as librarian, a position without remuneration. The tutorship brought him an income of six pounds per month. It is not clear whether the fees collected from book-borrowers were for the Librarian or for the College. Polly Woodward contributed to the family income by making men's shirts; [29] she and sister Abigail ('Abby') had done this regularly before marriage.

The Woodwards made at least one attempt to derive income from taking in a student boarder. On 1 October 1775 'George Boyd began to board at my house' (p.8). Boyd, the son of a wealthy Portsmouth trader, managed to spread nasty and unfounded rumors about President Wheelock, whose anger is reflected in the entries in his journal:

Jany 11 [1776]. Judged George Boyd to be admonished & deprived of Freshman 'till Spring vacation for Defaming Authority by saying that the Presidt call'd ye Congress [Continental] an ungodly Congress-

Jany 12. after evening Prayers edmonished Boyd & deprived him of Freshman & a few days after he went away without any Liberty from authority. [30]

A majority of entries in the account book reflect the activities of Woodward as farmer and justice of the peace. The account with John Paine serves as an example of the farming activities. Woodward sold veal, pigs, and beef. He assisted Paine in haying, and gave him 'the Use of my Pasture in the Summer of 1776' (p. 7). The neighbors paid each other for use of their oxen in various chores. Woodward bought from Paine beans, salt, and tobacco, as well as 'a pint of Rum [and] 3 Bowls Toddy' (p. 7).

To others Woodward sold various products of his farm: corn, pumpkins, pork, dry beef, wheat, rye, milk, butter, and cheese; also calf and deer skins and a brown mare. John Wright was paid for general labor, mowing, reaping, and spreading flax. Payments for whitening, spinning, weaving cloth, and making a 'coverlet' are listed; the work may have been done by Mrs. Wright (p.13).

In the account with Doctor John Crane (Wheelock's long-time associate and physician) we note the use of Woodward's horse 'to Lebn Pest house' (p. 11). In 1773 Doctor Crane had petitioned the governor and council for permission to erect 'an Hospital for Enoculation for the small Pox in some remote Part of said Town of Hanover under such Regulations as your Excellency & Honours may subject the Institution.' Permission was denied, and Crane then used the Lebanon facility. [31]

Additional income Woodward derived from activities as 'one of the Justices of our Lord the King to keep the Peace' in the county of Grafton, Province of New Hampshire. Court was held on an ad hoc basis in Woodward's residence. The 'Justice's Records,' kept in a bound book, have been preserved. [32] The sessions held 'in his Majesty's name' date from 1 October 1772 through 11 July 1775, around one hundred in all; in a few sessions Wheelock joined his son-in-law in his capacity of juris pacis. [33] While the majority of cases concerned disputes about debt, others involved unauthorized travel on Sunday, spreading rumors about the occurrence of smallpox in Hanover, libel, theft, 'prophane cursing,' deformation of good reputation, from 'drinking and tippling' to 'drunkenness,' 'not returning a borrowed saddle,' and 'tree stealing'; underlying all cases was guilt of the respondent 'of a breach of the King's peace.'

Aside from paying court costs, defendants found guilty paid money they owed or a fine, commonly destined 'for the Use of the poor of the town of Hanover where the offence was committed.' More harsh punishment, namely whipping, was reserved for the felony of theft. And it was Woodward, the gentle tutor-librarian-trustee, who paid Comfort Sever, the College's carpenter-joiner, not only for 'making a Barn,' but also for 'making Stocks & whipping Post' (p. 6, 'Account Book'). In the cases under discussion use of the stocks did not occur, but the whipping post was used regularly, if infrequently. James Foster, the College's cook, was found 'guilty of felloniously taking . . . 4 lb sugar 2 lb Butter & 2 lb chocolate' and was 'punished by being whipped five stripes on the naked Body.' By the time Foster's appeal was turned down he had taken 'from sd Wheelock half a pound of Tea. . . . Tis therefore ordered that in addition to the five Stripes ordered yesterday he receive three more on the naked Body . . . ' [34]

Woodward's later career was crowded with a great variety of functions. In addition to his judicial duties, he played prominent roles in local, regional, and some national events. In 'September, 1782, he was raised to the rank of Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy'; he served as acting president of the College on two occasions; he was its treasurer from 1780 to 1803. His manifold abilities obtained him the highest standing among colleagues and students. [35]

Woodward died on 25 August 1804, thirty-one years to the day of his appointment as first Librarian for Dartmouth College.


For help in this endeavor we thank Margaret A. Otto, sixteenth Librarian of the College; Rebecca R. Wyman, Register of Probate, Grafton County; John F. Page, New Hampshire Department of Records and Archives; Claire B. Packard; and Kimberly King Zea.

[1] In this article 'Wheelock' and 'Woodward' refer to Eleazor and Bezaleel respectively. The biblical Bezaleel was an expert craftsman appointed by Moses to superintend the construction of the Tabernacle (Exod. 31:1-6;35:30-35;36-39). With few exceptions, Woodward used the shortened Beza in signing correspondence or official documents; his elegant signature is often accompanied by an eleborate paraph. The biblical Eleazor, Aaron's son (Exod. 6:23), was appointed high priest after his father's death (Num. 20:28). For more information on both names, see the Encyclopedia Judaica.

[2] Dartmouth College Trustee's Records 1:18. Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, DA-1.

[3] Dartmouth College Library, Special Collection, Ms. 771477.

[4] 'An Inventory of the foods, chattels, rights effects and credits and all of the estate of Bezaleel Woodward late of Hanover in the county of Grafton & State of New-Hampshire Esquire deceased which are in said country of Grafton, made by the subscribers appointed for the purpose by the Honble Charles Johnston Esqr Judge of Probate &c in & for said county,' dated 'Novr 27th 1804.' The Inventory was 'Filed in probate office 15 Decr 1804 Recorded book 1st Page 447,' and probated 'May 18th 1807.'

[5] New Hampshire (Province), 'Provincial Deeds,' 80:550.

[6] Frederick Chase, A History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire, ed. John K. Lord, 2 vols. (Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1891-1913), 1:166.

[7] Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Ms. 773664.

[8] William W. Dewey, Dewey's Reminiscences: Being Historical Recollections, Recorded by William W. Dewey Relating to the Village and Town of Hanover, New hampshire and to Dartmouth College, ed. Edward Connery Lathem ([Hanover]: Hanover Historical Society, 1964),6.

[9] For our present purpose, discussion will be limited to the years around Woodward's Librarianship.

[10] In a letter of 19 November 1771 to Governor John Wentworth, Wheelock mentioned 'the case of Mr Woodward Who is now Settling in a family State as soon as Providence Shall allow, in the Capacity of a Professor but has no pension nor any means of Support, but only what Shall be judged Reasonable for Instructing a few Scholars (as he will have but few though he should have two classes) which will likely be thought very Small compared with what will be necessary for the Support of a family. I would therefor humbly propose to your Excellency whether your Wisdom Shall not think meet to honor him with a comission for the Peace, and also...that he Should be appointed Register of the Same.' (Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Ms 771619.2). For Wheekock's appointment, see Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Ms 771131.1.

[11] (5th ed., cor. and very much two volumes [London] In the Savoy: T. Osborne, 1751). Dartmouth's copy of this guide once belonged to Israel Morey, justice of the peace at Orford and close friend of both Hanover justices. He was the father of inventor Samuel Morey (1762-1843).

[12] Trustee's records, 1:26.

[13] Trustee's records, 1:24.

[14] Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History...6 vols. (New York: H. Holt and Company, 1885-1912), 3:172.

[15] Chase, History, 1:42-44; Dexter, Biographical Sketches, volume 3, Johnson's gift was not the first he made. The 'Daybook' of Moor's Indian Charity School for 20 October 1766 (p. 49) records a more modest one of £2.4.0 (Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Vault).

[16] 'Chronicle of Wasted Time,'Dartmouth College Library Bulletin 3:4 (December 1939), 51.

[17] David M'Clure and Elijah Parish, Memoirs of the Rev. Eleazor Wheelock, D.D., Founder and President of Dartmouth College and Moor's Charity School... (Newburyport: E. Little & Co., C. Norris & Co., Printers, 1811).

[18] Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Ms. 774578.

[19] Dartmouth College Library, A Catalogue of Books in the Dartmouth College Library ([Hanover: C. & W. S. Spear], 1809). The manuscript catalogues are located together in [Catalogue of Books in the Dartmouth College Library], Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Vault.

[20] 'Doctr Wheelock's Library,' in [Catalogue of Books], Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Vault.

[21] Trustees' records, 1:37. The tutors were Bezaleel Woodward, Sylvanus Ripley, and John Smith.

[22] Chase, History, 1:222.

[23 Trustees' Records, 1:47. John Smith (1752-1809), after graduating from the College in 1773, was tutor from 1774 to 1778; professor of Latin, greek, Hebrew, and Oriental languages from 1778 to 1809; and Librarian from 1777 to 1809.

[24] Trustees' Records, 1:25-26.

[25] Jeremy Belknap, Jeremy Belknap's Journey to Dartmouth in 1774, ed. Edward C. Lathem (Hanover: Dartmouth Publications, 1950), 19. While the original College seal has been preserved, the globes and microscopes have not. According to Wheelock's 'Daybook' of 11 July 1768, p. 52, the latter was bought in England for the Indian School (at the cost of £4.18.8); it came with 'a book on Use of Microscope,' costing £0.6.8. The book, in the Woodward Room (No. 79), is titled Employment for the Microscope: in Two Parts, 2d ed. (London: Printed for R. & J. Dodsley, 1764). A sketch of its author, Henry Baker, can be found in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 16 vols. (New York: Scribners, 1970), 1:410-412.

[26] Bexaleel Woodward, 'Account Book, 1774-1794.' Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, Vault. The page numbers in parentheses refer to pages in the 'Account Book.'

[27] 'An Inventory of the good, chattels,' cited in note 4.

[28] Lawrence Shaw Mayo, John Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, 1767-1775 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921). 87.

[29] At this time the shirt was usually, according to Thomas Dyche's A New General English Dictionary......14th ed. (London: 1771), 'a garment commonly worn by men next their skin, and generally made of linen.'

[30] Eleazor Wheelock, 'Minutes and Journal, 1771-1778.' Carbon copy of typescript of original manuscript.

[31] Provincial Papers: Documents and records Relating to the Province of New Hampshire[Provincial and State Papers, 40 vols.], 7:16; Town Papers: Documents Relating to Towns in New Hampshire [Provincial and State Papers], 12:161.

[32] New Hampshire, Justice of the Peace (Grafton County), 'Record of Cases, 1770-1841.' Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, MS 399, Box 1.

[33] After July 1775, the Committee of Safety for the town of Hanover of which Woodward was a member took over the function of justice of the peace, the royal authority upon which it had been based having been abolished. See John King Lord, A History of the Town of Hanover, N. H. (Hanover: The Dartmouth Press, 1928), 152. Woodward's term as judge of the court of common pleas lasted until his death in 1804.

[34] Justice of the Peace, 'Record of Cases,' 4-5.

[35] Dexter, Biographical Sketches, 3:91.

Last Updated: 5/3/12