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Home >> Smith College Archives >> Nina Elizabeth Browne Papers, 1860 - 1954 (bulk 1878 - 1956)
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Nina Elizabeth Browne Papers, 1860 - 1954 (Bulk: 1878 - 1954)
1 half document box ( .25 linear ft.)
Collection number: 42

Abstract:
Class of 1882. Librarian. Founder of the College Archives. Contains news clippings, correspondence, essays, photographs, publications, and financial records documenting the student and professional experiences of Nina Browne.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Nina Elizabeth Browne was born in 1860 in Erving, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. from Smith College in 1882, her A.M. in 1885. After teaching for a year she went on to the newly established School of Library Economy at Columbia College (now Columbia University) on the recommendation of a former classmate. The school was established in 1887 by Melvil Dewey, then the chief university librarian. Browne later noted that "when the trustees decided to have the library school, no one of them had a notion that women would come. Because women came, that rule forbidding a woman to enter a classroom forced Mr. [Melvil] Dewey to find a place for the newcomers. He found it in this old building hitherto used as a storeroom."

Columbia did not grant degrees to the classes prior to 1889 and the library program was moved to the University of the State of New York (now SUNY Albany). After being appointed State Librarian of New York in 1889, Dewey petitioned the university to offer a test to graduates from his early classes which required submitting to sixteen proficiency examinations, a compiled subject bibliography, and a thesis. Browne and one other student were the sole participants of this program. Browne was awarded a Bachelor of Library Science from the university in 1891.

She returned to Massachusetts and became an assistant librarian at Harvard and the Boston Athenaeum while working unofficially for the Smith College Alumna Association. A highly active advocate, she served as the Registrar for the American Library Association, compiling their portrait index and travelling to London for the International Conference of Librarianship.

In 1921, Smith College hired Brown as the first Archivist of the College in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the college. Much of the initial collection was acquired by Browne's mother during her daughter's time as a Smith student. Although the 50th anniversary project was completed in 1925, Browne continued to build and develop the historical collection. Active well into her 90s, she received her Litt.D. 1930. Partial blindness forced her retirement in 1937. Browne did not leave the position immediately; she continued to advocate the importance of a college archive and argued for a physical space. Margaret Storrs Grierson, then a professor, assisted Browne during this transition before ultimately being appointed the first College Archivist by Elizabeth Morrow in 1940. Browne passed away in 1954 at the Trinity Church Home in Jamaica Plain at the age of 94.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection contains material documenting the student experiences of Nina Elizabeth Brown, Class of 1882, including undergraduate course work and photographs. The majority of her collection is dedicated to documenting Browne's professional life as a librarian and includes impressions of her experiences at Columbia College Library School [1887 - 1889]. This includes professional and personal correspondence, news clippings, financial records, obituaries, publications and research.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Nina Elizabeth Browne Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives

History of the Collection

The Nina Elizabeth Browne Papers were created by Nina Browne and donated to the College Archives.

Processing Information

Madison White, Class of 2016; Elizabeth Carron, Archives Specialist


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English

Contents List
Smith College Archives
1921-1940

Box 1: folder 1
library assistant, 1916-1917
1882-1956

Box 1: folder 2
correspondence
1896-1947

Box 1: folder 3
correspondence - Jackson, Annie Brown
1902-1903

Box 1: folder 4
correspondence - McClellan, D.G.
1936-1949

Box 1: folder 5
correspondence - round robin letters to the Class of 1882


Box 1: folder 6
degrees
1883-1930

Box 1: folder 7
financial records
1920-1949

Box 1: folder 8
photographs
1882-1952

Box 1: folder 9
publications - "My First ALA"
1945-1946

Box 1: folder 10
publications - "Reminiscences of the First Library School of Columbia University"
1887-1937

Box 1: folder 11
publications - "Reflections and Memoirs"
1900-1946

Box 1: folder 12
undergraduate papers
1878-1882

Box 1: folder 13

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • American Library Association - History
  • Library schools and training
  • McClellan, Katherine Elizabeth
  • Smith College - Alumni and alumnae - History - Sources
  • Smith College - History - Sources
  • Women librarians - United States

Contributors
  • Browne, Nina E. (Nina Eliza), 1860 - 1954
  • Columbia University. School of Library Economy
  • Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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