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Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States
Edited by John Howard Brown in seven volumes (1900)


Lamb’s Biographical Dictionary of the United States is a record of progress in every branch of activity dependent on the exercise of human effort. It presents in a condensed, comprehensive, and convenient form the biographies of the men and women who have been prominent factors in making United States history, and of those who are to be a part of the history of the future. While it incidentally includes the notable names of the early times, its principal subjects are the active instrumentalities in founding, developing, and progressing the great American Republic. It is the record of men and women who have done a marvellous work in one hundred and twenty-five years, and of those who have gathered from the achievement of the past, the experience and inspiration necessary to work out the possibilities of the future. In the busy life of to-day, the book-maker is asked to “condense his narrative and give the simple facts.” This has been the aim of the editors of this work. The opinion of biographers, be they never so impartial, is not obtruded; the passions and prejudices of the times in which the subject lived, make no part of the sketch: what happened, what was achieved, and when; the heredity that influenced; the environment that shaped the character; the conditions under which the work was done; the failures as well as the successes; the honors conferred and the punishment inflicted, are all stated as facts without expression of approval or censure, suggesting no more nor less than can be determined by the narration of duly accredited facts expressed in definitive words. We spread before our readers a faithful record of work and result as illustrated in the action and effort of individuals who have contributed lines or pages to the history of the United States. Stripped of verbiage, many of the sketches appear at first glance to be unduly brief, but the student will ask for no fuller detail. Biographies multiply so rapidly that the popular collections should be condensed within reasonable limit, and should be so arranged as to allow future revisions to be made without destroying the value of the preceding volumes. In this respect it is claimed that the present work excels its predecessors, and that its information will never be useless by reason of irrelevant contemporaneous matter. A reference to the list of some of the principal contributors and editorial helpers will convince the public of the care exercised by the publishers in securing from every section and state the facts concerning the people of the locality, and in this distribution of the work avoiding any charge of sectional bias. Experienced and competent writers are employed as compilers, revisers, and critical readers. The published lives of the men and women of the past are carefully revised and compared with contemporaneous history, and the statements therein verified; while recent investigations disclosing newly acquired facts, and correcting dates and occurrences long accepted as history, have given new form to many sketches. Narrations of incidents which fail to convey to the present day reader a proper estimate of the labor, the sacrifice, or the purpose of the subject depicted, are supplanted by a record of deeds which time and modern thought have magnified and illuminated, — of work done out of season and when unappreciated, but which now finds a place in history. The permanent product of the effort of the individual, which remains as a monument to his achievement, whether it be an invention, a discovery, a college, a hospital, a play, a song, or a book, is noted, and any published memoir of his life is designated. Portraits of notable individuals, and as far as possible of those whose lineaments are the least known, are given, and this feature adds a peculiar value to the work. The materials which have been wrought into the foundations of this work have been accumulated from many sources. Every published biographical work has been diligently consulted; the collected biographies of the family, town, county, state, section, nation, and continent have severally contributed to our sources of information, and to the publishers, editors, and compilers of such works we have laid ourselves under many obligations which we here acknowledge. To the Boston Public Library and its librarian and assistant custodians, we are grateful debtors; no book or manuscript however rare or precious has been denied to our use, and the freedom of personal ownership would have served us no better than has this great public storehouse of reference. Equally are we indebted to the presidents and librarians of the universities and colleges for full information as to their alumni, and to the state librarians of every state in the Union upon whom we have imposed our insatiable demand for information. We thank in advance these our friends and helpers for favors yet to come, and in this first volume in which we introduce ourselves to the general public, we ask for a measure of patience and consideration as we, through our representatives in every state, continue to seek out such of truth as will enable us to go forward on the lines marked out, to the end of our gigantic task. We also tender our acknowledgments to all those who have promised their help: the men of eminence in science, literature, and official position: our coworkers in the field of research and compilation; and the patient answerers of innumerable questions upon whom we have no claim except that of universal brotherhood, and whose effective co-operation will prove of inestimable value in verifying our data. The volume now presented will be an earnest of our purpose, and will show the style and plan of the undertaking. It will be carried on by the same efficient helpers, augmented by others of equal ability. It is expected that the matter can be contained in six volumes, and their issue will be so arranged as to furnish the complete work within a reasonable time. The style and character of the illustrations, both the full-page portraits and the thousands of vignettes, will be fully up to the best examples of line portraiture, and the final result will meet the requirements of modern bookmaking.

Volume I - Abbe - Chrystal
Volume II - Chubb - Erich
Volume III - Ericsson - Hempstead
Volume IV - Hench - Leaming
Volume V - Leaming - Newton
Volume VI - Newton - Sears
Volume VII - Seaton - Zueblin

Here is one interesting biography of a Scot I hadn't heard about...

BRYMNER, Douglas, historical archivist, was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1823, of a prominent family originally from Stirlingshire. His father, Alexander Brymner, was a man of fine literary attainments, and from him the son imbibed his strongly marked intellectual and artistic tastes. After a thorough Scotch education Mr. Brymner engaged in business, which he prosecuted successfully until compelled to retire in 1856 by failing health. In the following year he removed to Canada, settling in the eastern township, province of Quebec. His literary aptitude soon became known, and he entered journalism as editor of the Presbyterian, the official organ of the Church of Scotland in Canada. Here his clear and vigorous pen and straight-forward and independent attitude attracted wide attention. Shortly afterward he became associate editor of the Montreal Herald, and in 1871 he was elected president of the press association. In 1872, with the approval of men of all political parties, Mr. Brymner was appointed to the newly created office of dominion archivist. His extensive and varied knowledge, and his powers of research and organization peculiarly fitted him for this work, and under his management the Canadian archives have grown from literally nothing to one of the most valuable and orderly collections in America. His reports are models of accuracy and sound judgment, and that of 1881 (on general methods in archival work) was, on account of the value of its information, incorporated bodily in a following one of the public record-offices of England. A growing monument to Mr. Brymner's work is the constantly increasing acknowledgments of his service by investigators who avail themselves of his collection. Mr. Brymner's literary work was not confined to the archives. He was a frequent but generally anonymous contributor to Canadian and American periodicals, and his efforts have been widely read and appreciated. Among these contributions may be especially mentioned a number of translations of the "Odes of Horace" into Scotch verse.

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