Guide to the Research Collections



Although the Lenox Library's annual report (for 1894) mentions the acquisition of some early educational works from the libraries of Dr. George H. Moore and George Livermore, the field of education is not one in which the New York Public Library has endeavored to build strong resources. Over the years, however, it has assembled a sizeable collection; by 1941 the library's holdings amounted to 68,500 volumes; by 1966 they had increased to 97,800 volumes.

The Research Libraries have concentrated acquisition efforts in the areas of educational theory, education and society, history of education, and the education of individuals and groups outside the systems of formal schooling. The strongest features are the administrative reports of departments of education for various countries and for American states and large cities, material on colleges and universities, and resources on college fraternities; holdings in this field, on the whole, are stronger in materials published before 1930 than for the subsequent period. Such aspects of education as school administration and teaching methods, along with intensive collecting of textbooks, are left to the History and Social Science Department of the Mid-Manhattan Library (a unit of the Branch Libraries), to Teachers College, and to other libraries in the city specializing in the subject. Reflecting this informal division of responsibility for resources, the current collecting policy is selective for most areas in this field; exceptions include general history and bibliography and education for the culturally disadvantaged, which are collected comprehensively, and general works on education in the United States and administrative reports from other countries, which are collected representatively.


A good collection of bibliographies and indexes includes not only such tools as Education Index and British Education Index, but many bibliographies issued by the United States Office of Education. The Public Catalog lists a total of more than 200 bibliographies for the field.

The more important periodicals in the English language are generally complete and include Catholic Educational Review, Educational Forum, Educational Record, Harvard Educational Review, Jewish Education, Journal of Educational Sociology, Journal of Experimental Education, Peabody Journal of Education, Review of Educational Research, School and Society, and Teachers College Record. There are some state journals of education, but relatively few foreign titles. The Research Libraries currently receive more than 100 periodicals in the field.

Holdings of the publications of major associations are good. The Public Catalog contains about 500 entries for the National Education Association, including titles from its departments of Adult Education, Audio-Visual Instruction, Business Education, and Classroom Teachers, and its Research Division; also represented are various commissions, committees, and projects. There are about 400 entries for the American Council on Education, embracing its reports and surveys of individual institutions, such series as "American Youth Commission," and titles prepared by special committees and commissions. About 1,300 entries represent publications of the United States Office of Education. In addition to the Report of the Commissioner since 1867, the collection contains the Directory, and Biennial Survey in a complete run. Files of the Circular and Bulletin lack relatively few numbers. There are many miscellaneous publications. Examples of other organizations whose publications are held include Kappa Delta pi and Phi Delta Kappa, as well as the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession.

Administrative reports of ministries and departments of education form an important feature of the collection. The file for most American states is extensive, although not necessarily complete; in some cases few recent issues are present. British Commonwealth and Latin American countries are also well represented, but with more numerous lacunae in the files. For most other countries holdings are weak, with few reports for foreign political subdivisions such as provinces or states.

Reports of the boards of education of American cities are held in strength. The library no longer attempts to maintain files from cities with populations of less than 250,000 (with the exception

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of those in the metropolitan New York area), although the collection contains many late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century reports from smaller communities. Minutes and proceedings of boards of education are generally available only for the largest cities (e.g., New York. Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis). Perhaps a dozen Canadian cities and an equal number in other commonwealth countries are represented by reports.


The collection contains a representative selection of histories of education, expositions of educational theory, and works by major educators. There are, for example, 125 entries in the Public Catalog for publications by and about Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, including his works in German and in English translation. More than 250 cards represent works by and about John Dewey, including critical studies in a number of foreign languages.

Although the library has not generally collected works of applied pedagogy, it does have some interesting examples of textbooks. For the United States these consist of readers, spellers (particularly Webster's spellers, many editions of which are held in the Rare Book Division), arithmetics, and other school books from the eighteenth century. There are also examples from later periods, including a group of schoolbooks issued in the South during the 1860s and 1870s. In the 1930s the library began to collect modern foreign schoolbooks for the political and social ideas they reflect, and acquired several hundred such publications before discontinuing the program. About 400 volumes came from Spain: 350 in Spanish, issued between 1900 and 1936, and 45 in Catalan, issued between 1920 and 1936. Both groups have readers (sometimes an entire series for the first through sixth grades), literary anthologies, books of religious instruction, and social studies texts: the Catalan items include some geographies and histories of the region. Other Spanish-language material includes 37 titles issued in Argentina during the 1930s. Another group of 200 items appeared in Germany between 1925 and 1936; some of the social science texts show the propaganda of the early years of Hitler's regime. There are 10 Italian readers and grammars from this period. The classified collections contain some primers and other textbooks in minor Asian and African languages, collected as representative publications from areas with small publishing outputs, and as examples of less widely known language.


The library holds strong resources on higher education, both in the United States and abroad. Files of Index Generalis, Minerva, and The World of Learning are complete. A good collection of society publications includes those of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars, Association of American Colleges. Association of American Universities, Association of Graduate Schools, College Entrance Examination Board, and the International Association of Universities. Extensive holdings on the history and development of higher education embrace surveys, works on academic freedom, and material on the role of philanthropy in education, as well as general treatises. The most notable feature of these resources consists of long files of the publications of American and foreign colleges and universities. The Research Libraries attempt to secure catalogs and announcements of courses for American undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools (excluding law, medicine, and veterinary medicine) and to maintain files of superseded issues for historical research. For some institutions (e.g., Bowdoin, Brown, Dartmouth, Yale) the retrospective files begin as early as the 1820s and 1830s, while for other important universities the collection now covers approximately a century--in both cases there are occasional gaps.

Administrative reports, chiefly those of presidents and treasures, are also noteworthy. Relatively few sets are complete; the period 1920-40 offering the richest representation. The Research Libraries generally acquire certain types of unofficial publications (histories, collections of photographs, reminiscences): other types are generally excluded (alumni bulletins, class reports, year-books and other student publications, song books). There are, however, alumni magazines for some Eastern institutions (e.g., Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton, Smith, and Williams) and fewer for other institutions not in the East (e.g., the Universities of Chicago, Michigan). Alumni directories are acquired for their value as biographical reference works.

Two collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division contribute to the history of higher education: a portfolio of correspondence (1873-85) from Cornelius Vanderbilt and his son, William Henry Vanderbilt, with Bishop H.N. McTyeire on the founding of Vanderbilt University; and the extensive personal papers of John Houston Finley. Covering the period 1900-40, the Finley papers include correspondence, writings, reports, and diaries relating to Finley's editorial work with McClure's Magazine and the New York Times, his association with Grover Cleveland, and his service as Commissioner of Education of the State of New York. The collection is housed in 90 boxes, 2 volumes, and 39 steel cases.

An unusually large and complete group of publications deals with Harvard University, embracing a nearly unbroken file of catalogs and announcements from the nineteenth century to date, together with the reports of the president, treasurer, and departments of the University. Included are Harvard Alumni Bulletin, Harvard Lampoon, more than 400 class reports, and a number of books about the institution. Not classified with these general titles are monographic series and other publications of individual faculties, institutes, and centers, which are shelved with appropriate subjects. The Public Catalog contains about 4,000 entries for the university. There are similar but less extensive holdings for Columbia, Princeton, and Yale. Other major universities are represented by smaller files.

Material on overseas universities is strongest for Australian, British, Canadian, and other British Commonwealth institutions. The sets of Calendars for major universities in these countries extend back many years, but holdings of administrative reports are less extensive than those for American institutions. The Commonwealth Universities Yearbook, of which the library possesses a complete set, provides basic information. A much smaller collection covers other continental, Asian, African, and Latin American institutions. There are publications from nearly all major universities, but in many cases files are incomplete and not current.

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Two other types of university publications, monograph series and doctoral dissertations, require special comment. In the subjects of collecting interest the Research Libraries have assembled extensive holdings of monograph series published by universities which are usually classified under subject. Only general series (for example, studies in the humanities) are classed with university publications; these form a very limited portion of the total monographic publications issued from major universities.

The Research Libraries actively collected American and foreign doctoral dissertations before 1940; when the custom of publishing American theses ceased and the War made most foreign studies unavailable their acquisition decreased markedly. Since the 1960s the Research Libraries have acquired certain American titles (almost exclusively on microfilm) and some foreign works listed in national bibliographies, selected as publications of value to scholarly users. The collection contains the volumes of summaries of doctoral dissertations that major American universities commonly issued until expanded coverage in Dissertation Abstracts led to their discontinuance. The annex houses a collection of more than 750 bound volumes of foreign dissertations not fully cataloged. The majority of these are from German universities (Berlin, Bonn, Breslau, Erlangen, Jena, etc.); there is a small representation from Swiss, Dutch, and Swedish institutions. The greater number are from the period 1920 to 1940, although a few are as early as the seventeenth century.

There are more than 5,000 volumes on Greek letter societies; the nucleus of which (1,300 items) dates from 1921, when Beta Theta Pi deposited the William Raimond Baird collection. Long runs of the periodicals published by individual fraternities and sororities constitute the most notable feature of these resources and account for as many as 80 percent of the volumes. The library has files of the magazines of Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Nu; many runs lack only a few early volumes. Additional publications include yearbooks, manuals, song books, and national and local directories of individual fraternities. The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds the records and documents of Delta Upsilon Fraternity and its constituent chapters from the 1880s to the 1930s, housed in 50 boxes and various volumes of minute books; some of the chapter records date from as early as the 1840s. The set of Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities is complete from 1879, and Banta's Greek Exchange and Yearbook of the National Interfraternity Conference are complete from the first volumes. Despite the strong emphasis on social fraternities, the holdings encompass some material relating to the history of Phi Beta Kappa and of Sigma Xi; for the former the Research Libraries have acquired a number of directories and histories of individual chapters. There is little about other Greek letter honor societies, although the publications of some (e.g., Sigma Delta Chi) are available.

Information on many other aspects of educational conditions and school life in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present appears in a number of collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. Diaries, correspondence, composition and exercise books, and other material contribute to studies of elementary and secondary, as well as higher education. A full listing appears in the division's published catalog (Boston: G.K. Hall & Company, 1957, 1: 265-70).


In accordance with its policy of building resources on education for persons not served by traditional school systems, the Research Libraries have strong holdings on industrial and technical education, adult education, and education of the culturally disadvantaged and physically handicapped.

The Public Catalog contains about 3,400 entries under the heading "Education, Industrial and Technical", a sizeable number of these relate to individual institutions in various countries (e.g., Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Mexico, and the United States). There is a considerable amount of material on the German Technische Hochschule.

Specialized resources on adult education include long runs of such periodicals as International Journal of Adult and Youth Education, Continuous Learning, and Journal of Adult Education. There are about 700 entries in the Public Catalog, many of them dealing with adult education in individual American localities and in foreign countries having active movements (e.g., Finland, Germany, Great Britain, India, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Sweden). Catalogs and other publications from American institutions offering extension and home-study courses are present. Long files of periodicals greatly strengthen the collection of material on the Chautauqua Institution and the Chautauqua system. There are early files of the Chatauquan Daily (from 1876), Weekly, and Quarterly; while the sets lack some numbers, they are very extensive. The gifts of Arthur E. Bestor in 1934 (1,477 items) and Rebecca Richmond in 1948 substantially enlarged the holdings of Chautauqua materials.

The Manuscripts and Archives Division houses material from two organizations in the field of adult education: the correspondence of the American Association for Adult Education (1939-40); and the records of The People's Institute, including general correspondence, scrapbooks of clippings and memorabilia, financial records, and printed programs and publications (1883-1932; 36 linear feet). Another relevant group consists of 16 boxes and 2 volumes of the letters, lectures, sermons, notebooks, and scrapbooks (1886-1917) of Henry Marcus Leipziger, long associated with the New York City Board of Education.

The Research Libraries have made special efforts to collect in the field of education for the culturally disadvantaged. This includes material on such topics as prejudice in education, intergroup relations, and the treatment of foreign peoples and cultures in textbooks. Related to this are more than 100 publications listed in the Public Catalog under the heading "Discrimination in Education, Racial and Religious."

Education of certain minority groups receives good coverage. For the topic as it relates to black Americans are such serial publications as Expanding Opportunities and Journal of Negro Education, and the catalogs, reports, and other publications of such individual Negro schools and colleges as Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes. The Public Catalog has approximately 75 entries for works by and about Booker T. Washington. General works on the education of American Indians

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(about 200 entries in the Public Catalog) include both monographs and serial titles, some of which are complete from the first issue ( Indian Education and Journal of American Indian Education ). An interesting group of publications, including several eighteenth-century imprints, deals with Eleaza Wheelock's Indian Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut; with the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and with various other special schools for Indians.

The most significant feature of holdings on the education of the physically handicapped consists of the reports of institutions and associations, foreign as well as domestic, which work with these groups. The period from the late nineteenth century to World War II is best covered, although the file of reports from the Perkins School is complete from 1832 and that from the American Printing House for the Blind from 1869 (with some gaps). While the majority of these reports come from individual institutions in various states, there is some representation from foreign countries, including Australia, Argentina, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and Sweden. Files of specialized periodicals such as The New Beacon, American Annals of the Deaf, and Volta Review are generally complete. Two interesting groups deserve mention: a number of publications on Frenchmen handicapped as a result of injuries received in the two World Wars; and approximately 50 publications by and about Helen Keller, including translations of several titles into French and German. An unusual item in the Rare Book Division is a copy of the autobiographical Midstream (1929), with the author's inscription to Mrs. Andrew Carnegie and the autograph of Anne Sullivan Macy.