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Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Library

 Organization

Northwestern University was founded in 1850; classes began in the building known as Old College, at Hinman and Davis Streets in Evanston, in 1855, with an enrollment of ten young men. During the summer of 1856, Northwestern's board of trustees allocated $1000 to create a library. Initially the library was directed by faculty members, and borrowing privileges were restricted to faculty. Professor William Godman, one of the two original faculty members (teaching Greek language and literature), was appointed the first librarian. Godman oversaw the refitting of a room on the third floor of Old College for a library, and also acquired the first books, which by June 1857 numbered 1977. Godman was succeeded in 1858 by Daniel Bonbright, professor of Latin. Over the next 12 years, under Bonbright and his successor, Louis Kistler, the library grew slowly; a title list prepared by the library's first recorded student assistant, Charles Bannister, in 1868, includes about 3000 volumes.

The arrival of the Greenleaf Collection (described below) in 1870 increased the size of Northwestern's library sevenfold and coincided with its relocation from increasingly cramped quarters in Old College to the third floor of the new University Hall, an imposing limestone structure that remains a Northwestern icon. The library's new space measured 70 by 20 feet and was filled within three years, foreshadowing the space problems that would always plague the university library. In the following years the collection continued to be developed aggressively. In addition to acquiring libraries from retiring or deceased faculty, significant expansion was made possible, in 1876, by the designation of the library as a depository of U.S. government publications. By 1894, close to one-third of the library's collections consisted of government publications.

Student protests over limited access to the collection and over the chronic absence of the faculty-librarians led to the introduction of very circumscribed student borrowing privileges by the end of the 1880s. The practice of naming a faculty member as university librarian in ended in 1889; two senior student assistants—George Wire (1883) and Lodilla Ambrose (1887-1908)—went on to direct the university library. In 1890, university president Henry Wade Rogers convinced the trustees to finance a new library building, and in 1894, with much assistance from librarian Ambrose, the Orrington Lunt Library was dedicated and named after its major donor.

In the following two decades, Northwestern growing enrollment made the provision of first-class library services a high priority. Ambrose's successor, Walter Lichtenstein, had been a bibliographer at Harvard; at Northwestern, he worked to catalog hitherto “hidden” collections—roughly 40,000 volumes in his first few years alone—and to expand the collections. He conducted book-buying trips in Europe and, from 1913 to 1915, to South America, journeys that made possible the growth of Northwestern's book collections from 75,000 to 116,000 during his 10-year tenure—not counting the further growth of government publications from 50,000 to 85,000. Lichtenstein was replaced in 1919 by Theodore W. Koch, who oversaw the construction of the Charles Deering Library, which opened in January 1933 with a capacity of 500,000 volumes (not including government publications). Koch's reputation facilitated the gift of important books and collections to the university. Among other purchases, Koch acquired the collection now known as the Biblioteca Femina–3000 volumes assembled for the International Congress of Women, held during Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition. Koch also exploited the depressed book market of the 1930s. During his 22 years as university librarian, which ended with his unexpected death in 1941, Koch saw the trebling of the collection from 120,000 to 377,000 volumes.

The Greenleaf (Schulze) Collection, which was accessioned and numbered separately from the other collections, represents the first great gift to the University Library, and one of the library's most fortuitous acquisitions. Northwestern professor of Latin Language and Literature Daniel Bonbright happened to be in Europe in 1869, where he heard that the library of Johannes Schulze had come up for sale. Schulze was one of the top members of the Prussian Ministry of Public Instruction and a much-feared book collector. At the time of his death, his personal library held some 11,246 volumes, and about 9,000 unbound pamphlets. The latter are chiefly dissertations from the German universities. Schulze's collection was particularly strong in the Greek and Latin classics; indeed, the collection contains 126 first editions of Greek authors and 8 first editions of Latin authors. Schulze had died earlier that year, but his son proved more interested in equestrian pursuits than bibliographical ones, and accordingly put the collection up for purchase. Bonbright, after traveling to Berlin to inspect the collection, had a unique opportunity to purchase the 20,000 volume collection for $7,000. Luther Greenleaf, an important landowner in Chicago and Evanston and supporter of Northwestern, supplied the funds—fortunately the purchase was made before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which wiped out many of Greenleaf's holdings. The collection arrived at Northwestern in July, 1870, where it became one of the foundational collections of Northwestern's library.

Found in 17 Collections and/or Records:

Lodilla Ambrose (1865-1927) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/7
Abstract The Lodilla Ambrose Papers document Ambrose's life and career at Northwestern University Library, spanning the years 1883-2001, with an emphasis on her time spent as Assistant Librarian at the University. Three biographies written about Ambrose (two in draft form) are filed at the start of the collection. Biographical Materials include high school, college and alumni records, mentions of speeches made by Ambrose, brief biographical listings in publications, and correspondence...

Deering Library Construction Photographs

 Collection
Identifier: 75/9/3
Abstract The series consists of four binders of black and white photographs documenting the construction process and the newly finished structure of the Charles Deering Library. With two or three exceptions, all photographs were taken by the Chicago Architectural Photographing Company. Two smaller binders contain 9-1/4 x 7-1/4 photographs dating from July 13, 1931, to May 26, 1932, depicting each stage of the exterior construction process from bare ground to completed, windowless exterior. These...

Theodore Wesley Koch (1871-1941) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/6
Abstract The Theodore Wesley Koch Papers fill three boxes and document Koch's life and work as University Librarian at Northwestern University, 1919-1941. The Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, and publications, but the bulk of the materials relate to Koch's involvement in the design and construction of Northwestern's Charles Deering Library (1933).

Eleanor F. Lewis (1882-1961) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 9/3/1
Overview The Eleanor F. Lewis Papers document Lewis's life and career at Northwestern University Library, spanning the years 1900-1977; the bulk of the materials relate to her retirement in 1948. Materials include: biographical materials; correspondence; articles; bibliographies; and a speech.

Records of the Northwestern University Librarian, John McGowan, ca. 1969-1988 Subject Files

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/11
Abstract The Subject Files fill thirty-two boxes and cover a time of significant growth and change in the University Library. The bulk of the records date between 1971, when John McGowan assumed the post of University Librarian (shortly after the completion of the new main Library building), and 1988. A few records from the mid- to late-1960s predate McGowan's tenure. This series documents the day-to-day administration of a major research library, with an emphasis on the important change to a...

Reports of the Northwestern University Librarian

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: 9/1/2
Abstract Annual or biennial reports compiled by the University Librarian including printed, transcribed, or typed formats. Not all years are present.

Northwestern University Library Accessions Catalogs

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/10
Abstract The Northwestern University Library Accession Records document the growth of the Library's collections over the course of sixty-three years, spanning the careers of seven librarians, and representing the holdings of four successive library spaces. The Accession Records contain lists of the books and other Library materials acquired between December, 1878 and July, 1941.

Records of the Northwestern University Library Exhibits Committee

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/5
Abstract The Exhibits Committee was formally created at Northwestern University Library in January 1985. According to its 1989 annual report, the Committee was formed in order to “promote the use of the library and its resources by coordinating the display of NUL and other materials.” The Exhibits Committee is responsible for coordinating, scheduling, supervising and allocating funds for the planning and preparation of displays in the exhibit cases of Level 1 of the Main Library. The Committee also...

Northwestern University Library Faculty and Student Book Circulation Records

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/3
Abstract Records of University Library book circulation to Northwestern faculty and students from the period 1874-1887 are contained in this volume.

Newspaper Clippings Relating to the Northwestern University Library

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/4
Abstract This series consists of photocopies of newspaper clippings relating to the Northwestern University Library.

Northwestern University Library Photographs

 Collection
Identifier: 75/9/2
Scope and Contents These Photographs are filed in room 111B, in Cabinet A.

Jens Nyholm (1900-1983) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 9/4/1
Abstract NU Librarian Jens Nyholm's personal papers fill twenty boxes and are arranged in six subseries with two additions: biographical materials, education files, correspondence, professional organization files, research and consulting, files, and publications. These papers comprise Nyholm's personal files; the records documenting his service as university librarian at Northwestern may be found in University Archives' Series 9/4, Records of the University Librarian. Approximately a quarter of the...

Records of the Acting Librarian Effie Keith (1882-1969)

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/9
Abstract Effie Keith's records fill one half-size box and span the years 1933-2004. The majority of the materials come from 1941-1944, during her tenure as Acting University Librarian. The materials include correspondence, personnel files, periodical clippings, and some inventories and reports.

Thesis and Dissertation Rosters (Northwestern University)

 Collection
Identifier: 9/1/16
Abstract Rosters of the titles and authors of Northwestern University master’s degree theses and doctoral dissertations spanning the period circa 1892-1990.

University Library Photograph Negatives

 Collection
Identifier: 75/9/1
Abstract This series includes 30 rolls of negatives from photographs taken of the University Library. Most rolls total 36 exposures. The negatives, black and white and shot on Kodak Tri-X Pan film are in 35mm format. The photographs, apparently taken during the early 1970s, are mainly of the interior of the University Library although some shots of Deering Library also are included.

Records of the University Library Planning Committee Chairman, Clarence Ver Steeg

 Collection
Identifier: 4/5/9
Abstract The collection documents the activity of the committee established to plan and oversee construction of Northwestern University's new University Library (completed in 1970), viewed through the lens of Clarence Ver Steeg, who chaired the committte for over a decade. The Planning/Building Committee held regular, monthly meetings in addition to engaging in ongoing, sub-committee duties, site visits, and research. The collection is centered around the working files of the committee, including...

University Library Temporary Employees Personnel Files

 Collection
Identifier: 9/2/6
Abstract This series is comprised of the personnel files of University Library temporary employees spanning the period of 1987-1990.