Mainly consisting of correspondence and records of his professional library activity, these papers document Root's numerous contributions to librarianship and his membership and presidencies of the American Library Association, Ohio Library Association, and Bibliographical Society of America. The collection is organized into eight series: 1. Biographical; 2. Correspondence; 3. Diaries and Notes (Anna Metcalf Root); 4. Files Relating to College and Community Service; 5. Files Relating to Professional Librarianship; 6. Talks and Writings; 7. Miscellany; and 8. Photographs.
The most important item in the biography series is a bound volume prepared in 1955 by his daughter, Marion Metcalf Root. Included is a biography, obituary notices, and letters of sympathy and condolence. The condolence letters attest to Root's fame and popularity in both the Oberlin community and the larger arena of professional librarianship. Several scholarly accounts, which were largely culled from these papers, are included as part of the biographical series.
The correspondence series consists of both personal and professional correspondence. The courtship letters of Azariah Smith Root and Anna Mayo Metcalf are included in this series, along with other family correspondence. In both the alphabetical and chronologically arranged incoming correspondence researchers will find personal letters interspersed among letters pertaining to librarianship and Oberlin College and community service. Notable correspondents include: Howard Hyde Russell (1855-1926, B.D. 1888, D.D. 1921); Webb C. Hayes; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. (1888-1965); William S. Scarborough (1854?-1926); Newton Diehl Baker (1871-1937); Frank Fanning Jewett (1844-1926); Anna Julia Cooper (1859-1964, A.B. 1884) and Lucy Stone (1818-1893, A.B. 1847). Twenty letters, (1889-96) from Judson Smith (1837-1906, B.D. 1863) outline the negotiations regarding the successor to James H. Fairchild (1817-1902, A.B. 1838, B.D. 1841) as President of Oberlin College, and as professor of Theology. Two 1896 letters discuss William G. Ballantine's (1848-1937) successor.
Anna Metcalf's Root's diaries consist of 20 volumes covering the years 1883-84, 1897-1909, 1912, and 1914-29. The brief entries record family news and information on health and activities, household expenditures, and subjects of lectures and sermons attended. The diaries are microfilmed on six reels and should be used in place of the originals.
Included with the diaries are Anna Metcalf's notes from Professor John M. Ellis' (1831-1894, A.B. 1851) 1882 lectures on "Evidences of Christianity." Monthly rhetoricals written by both Anna and Azariah S. Root between 1881 and 1884 deal with subjects such as the effects of liquor, Chautauqua, and paid domestic work. Also filed with the diaries and notes are Azariah S. Root's notes on Contract Law, written while he was a student of Edmund Hatch Bennett at Boston University Law School, 1884-85.
Records of Azariah S. Root's service to Oberlin College and the community include files relating to the planning and building of Carnegie Library, 1905-09, including specifications and correspondence with the architectural firm, Patton and Miller of Chicago. Other College related documentation includes files from Root's committee service. Root's community service is partially documented in files of the Oberlin Board of Health, 1901-07, Board of Education, 1913-24, Oberlin Telephone Company, 1897-1906, and files relating to First Church, 1900-21. The First Church records include correspondence with Charles M. Hall (1863-1914, A.B. 1885) regarding his gift of an organ to the Church. Noticeably lacking from Root's records of community service are files of the Anti-Saloon League of which he was a founding member, and other civic enterprises such as the Oberlin Village Improvement Society and the Community Chest.
Root's professional librarianship is well documented, particularly in the files of the professional organizations in which he was active. Records of the professional organizations provide valuable insight into the development of librarianship as a profession, with particular emphasis on library school curriculum and training. Root's records supplement the files of the national organizations and add considerable detail for specific committee work. Less attention is given to library matters pertaining to Oberlin in these records. For documentation on the administration of the College Library during Root's tenure the researcher should consult the records of the Oberlin College Library (RG 16). Records of the professional societies include the American Library Association, 1901-24; Bibliographical Society, 1921-26; and Ohio Library Association, 1895-1922. Also included are files relating to the development of the Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial Library, 1924-28. Documentation includes incoming and outgoing correspondence, committee files, reports, and scattered minutes.
The talks and writings of Root document the breadth of his interests and knowledge. Talks, both typescript and manuscript, cover history, science, religion and libraries. Several sermons delivered by Root are also included in this series.
Miscellaneous material includes a detailed inventory of possessions and expenditures in the Root household between 1887 and 1889, and notes regarding a trip to Germany in 1898-99. The final record series contains photographs (25) from 1884 to 1927.
Series 1. Biographical, 1927-30 (1953, 1961, 1976-86) (0.4 l.f.)
Includes biographical material and other information about Azariah S. Root. A bound volume prepared c.1955 by Root's daughter contains a biography along with obituaries and letters of condolence. Several recollections of Azariah S. Root and later scholarly papers have been added to the collection.
Series 2. Correspondence, 1881-1934 (1.6 linear feet)
Primarily comprised of Azariah S. Root's non-professional correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. Incoming correspondence is arranged both alphabetically and chronologically. An index to the alphabetical correspondence is housed in the first folder. Outgoing correspondence consists of chronologically maintained carbon copies. Extensive courtship and family correspondence is also included. Arranged in three subseries: 1. Incoming correspondence; 2. Outgoing correspondence; and 3. Courtship Letters and Family Correspondence.
Series 3. Diaries and Notes, 1881-1929 (1.6 linear feet)
Consists of diaries and notes kept by Anna Metcalf Root. Diaries cover 1883-84, and 1897-1929. The diaries are largely non-personal, primarily commenting on weather, activities, and other projects. Notes include monthly rhetoricals while a student at Oberlin College (including some written by Azariah S. Root), lecture notes, and recollections of a trip to Europe in 1912. Also found here are notes on contract law taken by Azariah S. Root as a student of Edmund Hatch Bennett at Boston University Law School in 1884-85.
Series 4. Files Relating to Faculty and Community Service, 1888-1920 (0.6 linear feet)
This series partially documents Root's committee service to Oberlin College and his numerous civic affairs. The most significant documentation pertains to the planning and construction of the Carnegie Library. Arranged in two subseries: 1. Faculty Service Files, and 2. Community Service Files.
Series 5. Files Relating to Professional Librarianship, 1895-1928 (2.7 linear feet)
Documents Root's contributions to professional librarianship, including correspondence, committee files and reports from professional library organizations. Root's presidency of the American Library Association, 1921-22, is particularly well documented. Research material relating to the American Correspondence School of Librarianship is included here for reference purposes (originals are at the University of Illinois). Arranged in 5 subseries: 1. American Library Association; 2. Bibliographical Society of America; 3. Ohio Library Association; 4. Rutherford B. Hayes Library; and 5. American Correspondence School of Librarianship (non-original documentation).
Series 6. Talks and Writings, 1898-1927 (0.4 linear feet)
Consists of typescript and manuscript articles, addresses, talks, sermons and writings on a variety of topics relating to Oberlin College and libraries. Some items which appear to be library science lectures are also included within this series. A typescript lecture with twenty accompanying, numbered photographs can be found in Series 8, Photographs.
Series 7. Miscellany, 1881-1927 (0.2 linear feet)
Includes an inventory of items and records of expenditures in the Root home, 1887-89; papers regarding Germany, 1898-99; a medal from the 1893 Columbian Exhibition; and other documents and material of a miscellaneous character. This miscellaneous material relates primarily to Azariah S. Root and includes his birth certificate, a typescript copy of his will, programs and announcements of lectures given by Azariah S. Root, and miscellaneous correspondence including Christmas cards (1915, n.d.), a letter regarding an Oberlin College class reunion (1924), and handwritten letters to Grace Prince (Mrs. Ira Shaw; cons. 1894-95), 1898. Also found here are typescript acounts of Azariah S. Root's annual activities (e.g., lectures) and a handwritten document outlining areas to be addressed in the development of the Oberlin College Library (1887). Material relating to Anna Metcalf Root includes a YWCA membership card and an 1881 subscription for the support of orphans to be cared for by Miss Effie Chapman (Mrs. Jacob A. Staley; A.B. 1884) and Miss Anna M. Metcalf.
Series 8. Photographs, 1884-1927, n.d. (0.2 linear feet)
Contains 25 images of Azariah S. Root and Anna Metcalf Root (albumen and silver gelatin processes). Images from their 1898-99 trip to Germany are included here. Also contains twenty numbered photographs with a typescript by Azariah S. Root that constituted an illustrated lecture on the Oberlin College Library, ca. 1910.