The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 37, September 11, 2022, Article 17


In response to Pete Smith's question last week, Dave Lange wrote:

"I don't know for certain that she was the ANA's first female librarian, but in my reading I frequently come across the name D. Dee DeNise, who became the librarian in 1951. It seems that her first name was Gene, but since that's typically the spelling of a male she evidently preferred to go by Mrs. D. Dee DeNise. How she arrived at that name I don't know."

Pete Smith submitted this article on ANA Librarian Mrs. D. Dee De Nise. Thanks! -Editor

  Smarty-Pants Answer

Mrs.D.Dee.DeNise.1951 Last week I posed the question, What was the first name of the first woman to serve as ANA Librarian?

The first woman librarian was generally known as Mrs. D. Dee DeNise. There were also references to Gene DeNise. With Gene generally considered a man's name, and Dee generally considered a woman's name, the name of the librarian and her husband may have been confused. So, who was D. Dee DeNise?

  Dwight Dee DeNise (1902-1992)

Dwight Dee DeNise was born in Rock Springs, Colorado, on February 19. 1902. He was raised on the ranch of his parents, George and Catherine Gantz DeNise. He graduated from the University of Washington. He worked as an electrical engineer for Seattle City Light.

At college he met Willow Gene Herren and they were married in Seattle on September 11, 1933. They had a son and a daughter. After the death of his first wife, he married Gada Mildred M. Turner.

He joined the ANA as member 16730 in October, 1948. His wife was one of the sponsors.

He was a rock collector and past president of the Lake City Rock and Mineral Association.

He died at Evergreen Convalescent Center in Olympia, Washington, on December 1, 1992.

  Willow Gene Herren DeNise (1904-1966)

She was born on January 15, 1904. In the 1910 Census, she is listed as Willow E. Herren, born in Oregon, the daughter of Dora S. Herren (1881-1967) who is a school teacher. By 1930, Dora was a school principal. Willow's father was James Hall Herren (1868-1953). Her parents were married in 1900 but divorced by 1910. Most records show her name spelled Herren. A few records have the name as Herron.

In the 1910 and 1920 Census, her name was listed as Willow E. Herren. Perhaps her middle name was Eugene or the census taker converted Gene to an E.

She graduated from the University of Washington. At the time of the 1930 Census, she was a public school teacher.

She was married on September 11, 1933. The marriage register names the groom as D. Dee DeNise and the bride as Willow Gene Herren. This is one of few records with her first name.

The August 1946 issue of The Numismatist listed her as Mrs. D. Dee De Nise and member 12959. She later converted to life membership number 265.

She was secretary for the Seattle Coin Club in 1947 to 1954. She also served as secretary for the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association.

When Ole P. Ecklund died on February 22, 1950, Mrs. DeNise described him living in a four room house with no electricity. His two front rooms held bookcases with 30,000 books and 40,000 coins. Mrs. DeNise conducted an April 20, 1951, mail bid sale to dispose of the estate.

She was appointed ANA Librarian to replace Ted R. Hammer effective November 1, 1951, and the library was moved to Seattle from Wichita, Kansas. During her time as librarian, she sent out more than a thousand books each year. She resigned at the end of 1957 claiming that she did not have enough time to attend to her duties or enough space to house all the books. She was succeeded by John J. Gabarron. She edited an Index to the Numismatist published in 1958.

She died in a Seattle hospital on April 24, 1966. There was no official obituary in The Numismatist, but a tribute appeared in the July 1966 issue on page 865.

The answer to the Smarty-Pants question this week: her first name was Willow. This does not appear anywhere in The Numismatist or the Newman Numismatic Portal.

Thanks, Pete, for setting the record straight. Great history. Dave Lange was close, but no cigar this week. Tricky question! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


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