History of the Lincoln Library Press


Yesterday and today link the generations of the past with those of the present in producing and maintaining the best in educational reference service.

One bright spring day in 1907, a young man entered the offices of the Matthews-Northrup Works. The young man's clothes were decidedly well worn and he carried a bulky manuscript. He did not look like a prospective customer to the salesmen of the famous Buffalo printer.

However, one of them talked with the young man, who explained that he had an idea. He wanted to publish a reference book, a condensed encyclopedia for people who wanted to find information more quickly than it could be obtained from the multi-volume sets. He had the manuscript with him.

The printing salesman explained, as gently as possible, that such a venture would require an investment of many thousands of dollars. Whereupon the young man pulled a roll of bills from his pocket and said that he had five thousand dollars with him. Would that be enough to start? After recovering his composure, the salesman agreed that it certainly would.

M. J. Kinsella

The young man's name was M. J. Kinsella.

M. J. and Burt S. Kinsella were both graduates of professional schools, and paid their college expenses by selling single volume reference books for a New England publisher.

M. J., however, was not satisfied with the content and quality of the reference books he was selling. In 1907 he was successful in his long continued efforts to get his brother Burt S., a dentist, to give up a good practice to join The Frontier Press, a new publishing venture. Their passion for publishing enticed their younger brothers, Tom, Will, and Ed, into the business as well. The unity of purpose displayed by these five brothers, all working in one suite of offices, over a period of twenty years, was an inspiration to everyone with whom they came in contact.

The manuscript carried by M. J. Kinsella in 1907 was entitled The Standard Dictionary of Facts. This publication sold for many years and had wide acceptance. Later a biographical reference work called Masters of Achievement was added to The Frontier Press Company publications.

The Lincoln Library of Essential Information

A need was felt for a more complete general reference book that would provide both subject matter and method for self-improvement, the kind of voluntary "home work" that had given a well-rounded education to Abraham Lincoln and others whose opportunities were limited.

In February of 1919 at a conference of office managers from every section of the United States and Canada, the Kinsella brothers presented plans for building The Lincoln Library of Essential Information. The first copy was delivered five years later on Lincoln's birthday in 1924 at a cost of more than $500,000.

While it was original in design and content, the editors and publishers included the best features of both its worthy predecessors. The usefulness of the new publication as a supplementary aid to teachers and students was recognized from the beginning.

 

The editorial board of the Frontier Press. V.E. Seibert appears second from right.

M. J. Kinsella was president of The Frontier Press Company for twenty years. Upon his death in 1927, his brother Burt became president and served until 1948. Upon his retirement, three of the men who had grown up in the business, having owned and operated distributing offices for The Frontier Press Company, took over active management. They were H. C. Goff, V. E. Seibert, and R. C. Nugen.

The co-operation of these men in promoting the sale of The Lincoln Library over a period of twenty years and the guidance given by B. S. Kinsella from his forty years' experience enabled the new management to make a remarkable showing in every branch of the business. The Lincoln Library was modernized in cover design, illustrations, content, quality and color of paper, and artistry of type selection and page layout. V. E. Seibert was made president in 1958.

William H. Seibert.

 

Soon a new generation was joining the venture. William H. Seibert, son of V. E. Seibert, began selling The Lincoln Library during vacation months while attending Ohio State University. When he received his master's degree in business administration in 1949 he became a full time worker for the Columbus office.

Upon his father's death in 1966, Bill became president of the Frontier Press, continuing the long tradition of family owned management. For the next 30 years he, and his son, David Seibert, expanded the Frontier Press catalog to include The Lincoln Library of the Arts, The Lincoln Library of Language Arts, The Lincoln Library of Social Studies, and the acclaimed Lincoln Library of Sports Champions. Designed as a reading motivator for elementary and high school students, Sports Champions can be found in libraries across the nation.

A New Beginning

In 1998 the tradition continued when the stewardship of Frontier Press publications passed to another independent publisher. Tim and Susan Gall had been developing reference works for more than 20 years. Tim began his career as an editor of scientific and technical books for a society of engineers, a position that included electronic publications. Susan, a teacher by training, worked in producing training materials in video and print formats. In 1992 they started a company that developed large reference sets for established publishers.

One day, by chance, Susan called a college in Columbus, Ohio looking for a summer intern. The placement officer mentioned that she had once worked for a reference book publisher...the Frontier Press. An introduction was made and the Seiberts passed the torch. The Frontier Press became The Lincoln Library Press, Inc.

In 2004, a revised and updated edition of Lincoln Library of Sports Champions was published to strong reviews in the library press. It is now in its 9th edition (2013).

In 2006, Lincoln Library of Greek & Roman Mythology was published, followed in 2008 by Lincoln Library of Shapers of Society: 101 Men and Women Who Shaped Our World.

Lincoln Library of Essential Infomation, 44th edition, was added to the catalog in 2112.

FactCite: Entering the Digital Age

In keeping with the exciting advancements in technology, the entire contents of the Lincoln Library product line, plus additional content on American history and world biography, was made available through the Lincoln Library's online database, FactCite.

Quickly becoming a standard in schools across the country (and around the world) FactCite has been recognized as a "Best Overall Reference K-12".



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