In the World War II era, American librarians engaged in a series of mass collecting missions, acquiring foreign publications and printed materials on a vast scale. These missions brought the world of texts and the world of war into a new and intimate relationship. They helped define American information science, shaped reconstruction and cultural heritage policies, and expanded the national and international scope of American research libraries. In this talk, I explore the unusual involvement of librarians, learned and often ingenious individuals, who unexpectedly found themselves running intelligence operations, gathering enemy documents, confiscating Nazi literature, and restituting looted books. Their stories reveal the tangled histories of books, culture, and information, on the one hand, and American wartime and postwar aims, on the other.
Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (1986); Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (1998); and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (2011). She is completing a history of collecting missions carried on by American librarians, book collectors, and information specialists in the World War II era, a project inspired by the discovery of the hidden life of a family member.
Meeting Type: Program
Content Area: Core Values
Interests: Research and Statistics
Type of Library: Academic, Public, Research Library, Special, Undergraduate
Sponsors: ALA, LHRT
Cost: Included with full conference registration.