Electra Collins Doren

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Electra Collins Doren
Electra C. Doren.png
Born(1861-12-04)December 4, 1861
Georgetown, Ohio
DiedMarch 4, 1927(1927-03-04) (aged 65)
Alma materCooper Female Seminary, Library School of Albany, New York
OccupationLibrarian, Suffragist

Electra Collins Doren (December 4, 1861 – March 4, 1927) was a suffragette and library scientist who started the United States' first book wagon service.

Early life and education[edit]

Electra Collins Doren, often referred to as Electra C. Doren, was born on December 4, 1861 in Georgetown, Ohio, to John Gates and Elizabeth (Bragdon) Doren.[1][2] She graduated from the Cooper Female Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and studied at the Library School of Albany, New York.[3]


Doren began work at the Dayton Metro Library, known at the time as the Dayton Public Library, in 1879. In 1897, she became the library system's director and instituted a number of new programs, including a school library department, a library training school and a reorganization that saw titles for the first time filed using the Dewey Decimal System.[4][5] The institution of the Dewey Decimal System opened the library for public use for the first time and allowed for the country's first book wagon service, which took books to rural areas of the community.[3]

Doren left Dayton in 1905 and became the first director of the Western Reserve University Library School. Following the Great Dayton Flood (part of the Great Flood of 1913), she returned to Dayton as chief librarian until her death in 1927, where she aided library staff in recovering items damaged by the flood, allowing the library to reopen just three months after the flood waters receded.[6][7] During her two terms as chief librarian, she expanded the collection from 36,000 books to 185,000 and increased the budget from $64,000 to $225,000.[8]

During World War I, she was a member of the Committee of the American Library Association, where she chose books that soldiers at home and in active duty could read.[8] Doren later founded the Ohio Library Association, serving for a year as its president, and was a vice president with the American Library Association.[4][5]

Death and legacy[edit]

She died on March 4, 1927.[8]

The Electra C. Doren branch library of the Dayton Metro Library system (once shortened as "E.C. Doren") is named in her honor.[5][9] The branch was renovated starting in 2014 as a result of a community support bond passed in 2012.[10]

As a suffragette, Doren collected materials related to women's suffrage for her library work, which later formed the basis for the Dayton Metro Library's Women's Suffrage Collection, which hosts the largest collection of materials on the topic in the United States. For her efforts related to suffrage and libraries, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, the Ohio Library Hall of Fame and the Dayton Walk of Fame.[4][5]


  • "Public Library Work for Public Schools", Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the Forty-Second Annual Meeting Held at Boston, Massachusetts July 6–10, 1903. National Education Association (1903).[11]
  • "The Library and the School: Work Now Done", Papers and Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth General Meeting of the American Library Association held at Niagara Falls, NY June 22–26, 1903. American Library Association (1903).[12]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Herringshaw, Thomas. Herringshaw's American Blue Book of Biography: Prominent Americans of 1915. American Publishers Association, 1915, p. 381.
  2. ^ Who's Who in the World, 1912. International Who's Who Publishing Company. 1911-01-01. p. 392. western%20reserve%20university%20library%20school%20electra%20collins.
  3. ^ a b Royster, Jacqueline Jones (2003-01-01). Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003. Ohio University Press. ISBN 9780821415085.
  4. ^ a b c The Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association (March 21, 2013). "Women of Library History - Electra C. Doren". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Nix, Larry (December 4, 2011). "Library History Buff Blog - Happy 150th Birthday Electra Doren, Dayton Librarian". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  6. ^ "Dayton Walk of Fame: Electra C. Doren". Dayton Daily News. March 13, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  7. ^ "Dayton Metro Library - Dayton Metro Library". www.daytonmetrolibrary.org. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  8. ^ a b c Library, Dayton and Montgomery County Public (1917-01-01). Reports.
  9. ^ Dayton Metro Library locations - Electra C. Doren
  10. ^ "Construction Contract Awarded; E.C. Doren - Dayton Metro Library". www.daytonmetrolibrary.org. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  11. ^ (U.S.), National Educational Association (1903-01-01). Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the ... Annual Meeting Held at ... University of Chicago Press.
  12. ^ Proceedings of the ... annual conference ... 1903-01-01.