• Four of the librarians from the Jacob Edwards Library and the black library cat, 1916. Courtesy of the Jacob Edwards Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Librarians of the Jacob Edwards Library with cat in Southbridge Massachusetts
    • Date
    • 1916
    • Creator
    • Pease, Aaron, H
    • Description
    • Four of the librarians from the Jacob Edwards Library are seen between the trees, while standing on the lawn. Two staff members are standing and two are crouched down in front, with one holding the black library cat. The women wear blouses with long ... more
      Four of the librarians from the Jacob Edwards Library are seen between the trees, while standing on the lawn. Two staff members are standing and two are crouched down in front, with one holding the black library cat. The women wear blouses with long sleeves, long skirts and their hair swept up. The library staff were listed in the Annual Report of 1916 as Ella E. Miersch, Librarian, assisted by Mabel W. Plimpton and Ruth Beecher. The subjects in this view are unidentified. A glimpse of a two family house with porch is provided on the right. Is part of the photographic collection of the Jacob Edwards Library, Southbridge, Massachusetts. http://www.jacobedwardslibrary.org. Image of the A.H. Pease album #3. less
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    • Rights status not evaluated. Contact host institution for more information.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Jacob Edwards Library

  • Nellie Takamoto, formerly an assistant librarian at Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, in library training in Philadelphia, August 1944. Courtesy of the University of California Berkeley, Bancroft Library via California Digital Library.

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    Nellie Takamoto, who relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in June 1944, is collating medical textbooks in a Philadelphia publishing house.
    • Date
    • 1944-08
    • Description
    • Full title:Nellie Takamoto, who relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in June 1944, is collating medical textbooks in a Philadelphia publishing house. A 1942 graduate of Placer Union High School in Auburn,... more
      Full title:Nellie Takamoto, who relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in June 1944, is collating medical textbooks in a Philadelphia publishing house. A 1942 graduate of Placer Union High School in Auburn, California, she was an assistant librarian at Heart Mountain. Miss Takamoto intends to take a training course for librarians in Philadelphia, where she shares an apartment with an executive of the Visiting Nurse Association. Nellie's parents Mr. and Mrs. Yonezo Takamoto and her sisters Anne and Mrs. Mary Maeda still reside at Heart Mountain. Another sister, Sarah, works at a hospital in Cincinnati. Her brother Yoneo is a private with the U.S. Army in Italy. Photographer: Iwasaki, Hikaru Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. less
    • Rights
    • Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions,... more
      Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. less
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    • California Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library

  • Librarians working at Tufts Library in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Courtesy of the Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Tufts Library aisles
    • Date
    • 1874-1982
    • Description
    • Title from item. Additional information accompanying item: Weymouth Libraries Washington St. Date supplied by cataloger. Hobbs Studio, 819 Broad Street, E. Weymouth, Mass.
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library

  • A children's librarian checking out a book to parent and child, Manchester, Georgia, 1953. Courtesy of the Pine Mountain Regional Library via Digital Library of Georgia.

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    Photograph of a children's librarian checking out a book to parent and child, Manchester, Georgia, 1953
    • Date
    • 1953
    • Description
    • Photograph of a library clerk in the children's section of the library handing a book to a mother while her young son examines a picture book. This photograph is from a scrapbook submitted to Georgia Power's 1953 Champion Home Town contest. The conte... more
      Photograph of a library clerk in the children's section of the library handing a book to a mother while her young son examines a picture book. This photograph is from a scrapbook submitted to Georgia Power's 1953 Champion Home Town contest. The contest was extended to towns with populations under 20,000. The photos document the town's progress in the areas of education, industry, recreation, youth, clubs and societies, complete with brief written progress reports. Pine Mountain Regional Library, Manchester, Georgia. less
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    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Pine Mountain Regional Library

Men from New England’s elite families were the predominant players in the early US library movement. These men viewed librarians like missionaries, bringing civilization and reform to the masses through educational opportunity. Many were well-connected graduates of New England’s colleges and some had departed other careers in law and ministry to begin second careers as librarians. Along with these men, a number of women from the elite classes volunteered at libraries, particularly for work with children. It was not until after 1900 that women would dominate the operational work of libraries, and longer still until they would have full administrative power and responsibility.

This particular gendered history underpins the founding of the American Library Association (ALA)—the first and largest library professional organization in the world. In 1876, 103 librarians from across the country—ninety men and thirteen women—met and resolved that the mission of the new ALA would be "to enable librarians to do their present work more easily and at less expense." Despite the rapid growth of women in the library profession, the ALA would not elect its first woman president, Theresa Elmendorf, until 1911.

In 1904, librarian Mary Cutler Fairchild would note that participation by women in American Library Association meetings was disproportionate to their attendance. Her research indicated that in libraries, women greatly outnumbered men, holding a large proportion of administrative positions but with little administrative responsibility. In addition, women did not hold positions offering the highest salaries, but rather appeared to perform the same level of work for less compensation.