|The Simple Speller booklet|
|Letter to Dr. Smith from Andrew Carnegie|
Foreseeing that English would become a global language, Carnegie believe a phonetic alphabet would guarantee its world acceptance. For his Board, he asked for "gentlemen of prominence," and he got them. They included a Supreme Court Justice (David J. Brewer), the Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (James A.H. Murray), the creator of the Dewey Decimal System (Melvil Dewey), the preeminent American author (Mark Twain), the President of the U.S. (Theodore Roosevelt). It had long been noted that English spelling is beset with many inconsistencies; the most famous may be the construction "ough," pronounced variously in the words tough, through, and although. Rationalizing these inconsistencies formed the work of the Board, but progress was exceedinly slow. Yet even Justice Brewer vowed to use phonetic spelling in his opinions issued by the Supreme Court, and the New York World spoofed him with the headline: "Justis Brewer Telz How He Uzez Nu Speling in Hiz Opinyunz."
|Board of Education Resolution on death of Dr. Smith|
Even with the success of The Century Dictionary, Dr. Smith was reluctant to use it as a tool for spelling reform, claiming that a dictionary "is a record of accepted public usage rather than an arbitrary maker of words and spelling." However, his administration of the Simplified Spelling Board proceeded for several years, and he remained a friend of Andrew Carnegie. With Carnegie's death, the Board dissolved, and Dr. Smith's greater impact remained the legacy of his devoation fo the City of New Rochelle as a member of its Board of Education and the Rochelle Park Association.
May 7, 2020 / David Rose / New Rochelle Public Library Archives