Daniel Steele Durrie (1819-1892)
Daniel Steele Durrie is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 3, 2011 at the Awards and Honors Banquet during the Wisconsin Library Association Conference in Milwaukee. Durrie held the elected position of Librarian of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) from 1856 until his death in 1892. Durrie and Lyman C. Draper, the first Secretary of the Historical Society, worked together to build the foundation of the Society’s nationally acclaimed collection. Leslie Fishel had this to say about Durrie and Draper in a1995 Wisconsin History Magazine article: “Daniel Steele Durrie was a knowledge-seeker with a penchant for detail, a dedication to hard work, an ambition to build enduring monuments, and an imaginative drive which undergirded all of those impulses. Reserved and respectful but not reticent, he assisted and complemented the expansive and egocentric Lyman Copeland Draper, who, as the institution’s first “corresponding secretary,” energized a fragile State Historical Society of Wisconsin in its early years. Working in tandem, these two men helped to create the foundations of a dynamic research institution which came to rank with the best of the breed around the globe.” In an 1892 tribute to Durrie, James Davie Butler indicates that Durrie is justly classed among the founders of the Historical Society. Durrie was largely responsible for organizing and indexing the library’s monograph and periodical collection prior to the development of a library profession in America. Durrie was born on January 2, 1819 in Albany, New York. Prior to his work in the Society’s library he was a bookseller. During Lyman Draper’s tenure as Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Durrie served as his assistant.
The image of Durrie is from the Wisconsin Historical Society's Digital Image Collection. Image ID: WHi-47868.