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Reverend Anson Smyth, Superintendent 1863-1866

Reverend Anson Smyth    Reverend Smyth was a pastor in a Presbyterian church in Toledo, Ohio when he felt keenly the need of establishing a good system of schools. During his term as superintendent (July, 1863-1866), the number of teachers employed in the schools increased from eighty to one hundred and thirty and a school library was established. Smyth was given broad powers to reform the school system, visited schools in every county and, along with Harvey Rice, worked on restructuring Ohio’s public schools. His strict classification by age and ability, led to overcrowding in some grades, but also led to the creation of 10 new primary and secondary schools. Although he was referred to as the “Father of the Cleveland Public Library”, he didn’t actually found the library. Instead, he helped to establish Ohio’s public library system. Smyth was one of the chief supporters of the successful drive to enact a new law in 1868 that allowed cities to levy a tax for the maintenance of free public libraries. This portrait was donated to CPL by Smith’s grandson in 1969.
photo courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library