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Theodore Wesley Koch (1871-1941) Papers

Identifier: 9/1/6

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Scope and Contents

The Theodore Wesley Koch Papers fill three boxes and document Koch's life and work at Northwestern University Library. The Papers include biographical materials, correspondence, and publications, but the bulk of the materials relate to Koch's involvement in the construction and selection of artwork for the Charles Deering Library. Materials span the years 1894 to Koch's death in 1941, but also include later observations by his daughter, Dorothy Koch Bestor, and Northwestern University librarian Rolf Erickson.

Biographical materials include biographical data supplied to publications, references to Koch's educational and professional achievements, obituaries and memorials, and clippings. A number of biographical sketches (including a study by Rolf Erickson, and a eulogy by Northwestern University President Franklyn B. Snyder) supply a detailed portrait of Koch's life and work.

One folder documents Koch's efforts to provide books to soldiers during World War I; another describes his work on the Midwest Research Libraries during World War II. General correspondence (1920-1947) is mostly concerned with Koch's constant effort to increase funding for the Library. One folder of correspondence relates to his bookplate-collecting hobby (the bookplates themselves are located in Box 4), and another to his participation in the Caxton Club.

Koch's work on the building and stocking of the Charles Deering Library, and his connection with the Deering family, is documented in correspondence dating between 1931 and 1940. This includes correspondence with Marion Deering, Charles's wife, and other Deering family members. Other folders contain correspondence relating to the purchase of specific pieces of art (e.g., portraits of Dean Holgate and Roger Deering) and to the Memorial Gardens on the surrounding the library.

Memoranda about Library needs (including discussions of the advisability of charging rental fees, the problem of stolen books, and a survey of students about Sunday hours) and extensive general reports about the state of the Library date between 1933 and 1939.

Koch's writing and speaking activities are represented by a folder of speeches, a bibliography of his publications, a few small books, copies of articles (1900-1921), translations, and reviews. Some of his writing dealt with library administration (On University Libraries, 1923); much of it reflected his lifelong bibliophilia.

Materials created after Koch's death include drafts and correspondence by Rolf Erickson for his biographical sketch, one folder relating to Dorothy Koch Bester, and a folder about the Caxton Club's 1980 exhibit about Koch.

Koch's bookplate collection, arranged in a card-file box, is organized by origin of the bookplates--those created for public libraries, institutions, private book collections, and so on. Dividers separate the categories.


  • 1894-1980


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


4.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



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).


The correspondence is arranged into broad categories, and then chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

The Theodore W. Koch Papers are comprised of materials separated from Accession # 74-95, consisting of materials relating to Northwestern University Librarians and placed in the University Archives at an unknown date. The Theodore Koch Bookplate Collection, Accession #80-30, of unknown origin, and materials from the Archives' Faculty Biographical Files were also incorporated into the Papers.

Related Materials

For more on the design and construction of the Charles Deering Library, see the Deering Library Bulletin, the Deering Library General Files, and the Walter Dill Scott Papers (series 3/15/1)—all in the Northwestern University Archives.

Separated Materials


Processing Information

Richard B. Downey; March 2002; Daniel B. Schwerin and Janet C. Olson, February 2003

Guide to the Theodore Wesley Koch (1871-1941) Papers
Richard B. Downey, Daniel B. Schwerin and Janet C. Olson.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US