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Burton notes on McCoy Hall of Johns Hopkins University

Ernest D. Burton, notes on McCoy Hall of Johns Hopkins University, February 13, 1903. Burton visited libraries and other buildings on many campuses while making plans for a new library at the University of Chicago.



Cornerstone laying for Rawson Laboratory of Medicine and Surgery, 1924

Martin A. Ryerson, Ernest D. Burton, and Frederick H. Rawson, cornerstone laying for Rawson Laboratory of Medicine and Surgery, November 17, 1924. Built on the site of the old Rush Medical College building, Rawson Laboratory was intended to be the center for post-graduate medical research of the University's medical school.

Ernest DeWitt Burton

When Harper began assembling the faculty for the new university in Chicago, he offered Burton the head professorship of the New Testament departments in the University and in the Divinity School. Burton was not easily convinced, however, and it was only after protracted negotiations that Burton agreed to move west. Explaining his decision to the students at Newton, Burton said:

If I read the signs of the times aright, the battle of Christianity in this country for the next quarter century is to be waged somewhat more fiercely in the Mississippi Valley than on the New England coast. find in the Mississippi Valley, perhaps no place will be so nearly the very heart and center of the conflict as the city of Chicago . . . . I have always advised on the principle that, other things being equal, the place that was nearest the edge of battle furnished largest evidence of being the one to which Providence called.

Burton was a prodigious writer, publishing serious biblical studies as well as popular books and manuals for church and school use. His exhaustive lexicographical analysis of three Greek roots, Spirit, Soul, and Flesh, was merely the background research he felt was necessary before he could finish his real project, a commentary on the epistle to the Galatians.

In 1908, Burton was chosen to head a commission to investigate educational, social, and religious conditions in the Far East. John D. Rockefeller had received repeated requests from mission boards, the international YMCA, and other bodies to assist in their work in China and other countries. Rockefeller agreed to fund a study of the current situation, to be sponsored by the University of Chicago. In joining the commission, Burton fulfilled his longheld wish of going to China and assisting foreign missions.

Departmental libraries were scattered all over campus, and each had its own collection policies and cataloguing system. Burton plunged into reorganization, considering it a pleasant diversion from his scholarly work. Some libraries were consolidated in the new building, while information on all holdings was brought together for the first time in a central catalog. Burton hired J. C. M. Hanson from the Library of Congress, secured University approval of the Library of Congress classification system, and supervised the creation of a single integrated catalog for the entire book collection.

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