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The following excerpts from correspondence between professor Mary Ellen Oliverio and the New York State Archivist, may shed light on why Charles Waldo Haskins did not receive CPA certificate No. 1.

To the State Archivist

My question to you is: "What authority did Mr. Melvil Dewey have to change decisions of the State Board of Accountancy at their first meeting in 1896?"

When a colleague and I read the original minutes in the office of the State Board of Accountancy, we learned that C.W. Haskins was listed as CPA No. 1. When the three-man board met on November 24, 1896, they identified the persons who were to receive their CPA certificates under the waiver provision, and they elected Mr. Haskins as president of the board.

Now, we understand that Dewey believed in order and determined that the CPAs should be listed in alphabetical order. Broaker, therefore, was named as No. 1; his photo hangs in the library at the AICPA at Harbourside in Jersey City.

From our reading of the efforts of accountants in the final decade of the 1900s to develop a professional organization, Haskins seems to have been a key figure. His experiences in Europe introduced him to the development of the profession in the United Kingdom. He continued to be a leader with vision in this country. We believe that the two men--Broaker and Sprague--who sat with Haskins at the first meeting of the new board believed that Haskins should be No. 1; his leadership was not self-serving or provincial. It was not a matter of sloppy ordering of names that resulted in the handwritten listing in the minutes of November 24, 1896. A year after the initial meeting, Broaker was no longer a member of the board. The reason for the change in membership is not revealed in the minutes. However, Broaker published the first CPA examination along with some additional material as a commercial venture, keeping the proceeds for his own use. The apparent cause of his removal from the board is related to his behavior related to the publication he issued.

We really question the authority of Mr. Dewey to change the order. There are numerous instances when alphabetical listing is not appropriate. We think this was one such instance.

We have no hidden agenda in bringing this question to your attention. We believe, however, that the decision of the first board should be honored and, therefore, Haskins should be reinstated as CPA No. 1.

To Mary Ellen Oliverio

During the 1890s, Melvil Dewey served as Secretary to the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. Prior to the unification of the university and the Department of Public Instruction in 1904, the secretary was the chief executive officer of the university. The university's governing body, the Board of Regents, had then and continues to have the constitutional and statutory responsibility for overseeing higher education in the State of New York. However, after 1904, executive authority was vested in the newly established position of Commission on Education. The secretary to the Board of Regents was continued as a purely administrative office.

Melvil Dewey was a man of many talents and strong opinions. He was one of the founders of the library profession in the United States, and he is best known today for devising a system for cataloging library materials--the "Dewey Decimal System." Dewey also was chiefly responsible for promoting a broader, more activist role for the University of the State of New York. One aspect of this expanded role was the Regents' assumption of responsibilities for overseeing professional education and licensure in New York.

As executive officer of the Board of Regents, Dewey may have had explicit or implicit authority over the process of issuing professional credentials. I cannot say for sure, because I do not have ready access to rules of the Board of Regents in force during the 1890s. In addition, I am not able to provide advice on the interpretation or application of statutes and rules.

You may be able to obtain more information on Dewey's responsibilities and actions as secretary from the Board of Regents' Secretary.

James D. Folts

Head Research Service

The State Education Department

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