Montgomery, Thomas Lynch, 1862-1929

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Thomas Lynch Montgomery was born on March 4, 1862. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1884, where he had his first experience with library work at a local Sunday school. Montgomery was hired at the Wagner as actuary in 1886, and later assumed responsibilities of librarian. Over the course of his 17-year career at the Wagner, his duties ranged from collecting rents from tenants on properties owned by the Institute and obtaining estimates for work to be done on the building to dealing with the publication of the Transactions of the Wagner Free Institute of Science (WFIS) and working with the branch of the Free Library attached to the Institute. He was instrumental in the founding of the Pennsylvania Library Club in 1890 (Box 3, Folders 35 and 36), was President of the Photographic Association of the Wagner in 1891 (Box 3, Folder 28), helped to organize the first branch of the Philadelphia Free Library in 1892, and served as chairman of the American Library Association's (ALA) "Library Editions of Popular Books" committee in 1898 (Box 4, Folder 50). Several letters seeking advice indicate that Montgomery was well-respected in the library world at the turn of the 20th century when the public libraries were still relatively new (see, for example, Flora A. Lindsay's letter in Box 3, Folder 35 and Susan F. Chase's letter in Box 4, Folder 58).

Montgomery left the Wagner in 1903 for an appointment as Pennsylvania State Librarian, a position in which he served for 18 years. During that time, he helped to establish a Legislative Reference Service to improve the quality of bills written by legislators and fostered the growth of historical and genealogical collections. He was also at the forefront of the trend to collect visual materials, beginning an innovative lantern slide collection for educational use. He edited thirty volumes of the Pennsylvania Archives . As State Librarian, he also served as curator of the State Museum, where he expanded collections and public service activities. Outside of his official duties, he was involved in several historical and library associations, and served as president of the ALA from 1917 to 1918.

From 1921 to 1928, Montgomery was librarian at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where he edited The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography . In 1913, he received an honorary doctorate from Muhlenberg College.

Montgomery died in 1929.


Much of this information comes from two sources, photocopies of which can be found in Montgomery's file in the Biographical Files of the Archives. They are:

Krash, Ronald D. "Montgomery, Thomas Lynch (1862-1929)." Dictionary of American Library Biography . ed. Bohdan S. Wynar, Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited Inc., 1978.

"Montgomery, Thomas Lynch." The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. 24. New York: James T. White & Co., 1935.

From the guide to the Wagner Free Institute of Science Actuary and Librarian records, 1883-1901, (Wagner Free Institute of Science)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Chambers, Robert person
associatedWith Collins & Autenrieth. corporateBody
associatedWith Dall, William Healey, 1845-1927 person
associatedWith Historical Society of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Leffmamn, Henry, 1847-1930 person
associatedWith Leidy, Joseph, 1823-189 person
associatedWith Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925 person
associatedWith Peale-Sellers families. person
associatedWith State Library of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Wagner Free Institute of Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Wagner, Samuel person
associatedWith Willcox, Joseph person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Science--Study and teaching
Natural history museums
Lectures and lecturing


Birth 1862-03-04

Death 1929-10-01



Ark ID: w6dv1kn3

SNAC ID: 69421276