Memories of ALA Annual Conferences Past

Dancers at the PNLA luncheon, part of the 1925 American Library Association annual conference
Dancers at the PNLA luncheon, part of the 1925 American Library Association annual conference

As I head off for Chicago, it seemed a fitting time to share another exciting discovery from the PNW scrapbook collection.  With Edna’s help, I recently upgraded the bibliographic record for the Marguerite E. Putnam scrapbook.  Compiled especially to celebrate Putnam’s retirement from the University of Washington Libraries after thirty-five years, it was an especially lovely specimen, with pages contributed by the various departments of the library.

Also of interest, however, was yet another box of unsorted clippings and other material that went along with the volume.  Hidden amongst the clippings was an envelope containing eleven photographs.  The envelope was dated 1925 and sent to Putnam from F. W. Faxon, a giant of American bibliography and library history (though there’s currently no Wikipedia entry, so get to it!).  Or perhaps I am getting overly sentimental here since I sort of got my start in serials check-in.  Upon further investigation, it became clear that these snapshots were taken by Faxon at the American Library Association’s 1925 Annual Conference, which was held in Seattle.  All of the pictures were fascinating, but we both were especially captivated with the one above with its Isadora Duncan-ish dancers cavorting about on the UW campus.  Here’s how Library Journal (in somewhat tongue-in-cheek mode) described the event:

On Thursday, a buffet luncheon was served by the Pacific Northwest Library Association on the University of Washington campus, followed by exhibit dancing — not by librarians — in the Sylvan Theater…

Faxon apparently documented many of ALA’s early meetings.  Some of the same photographs (cropped differently) he sent to Putnam are available in digital form on the Digital Collections site of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (which holds the ALA archives), but not this one!

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Although I am a native New Yorker, I seem drawn to the Pacific Northwest. My current gig as Manuscripts & Special Collections Cataloging Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries represents my third stint out here. Prior to coming to the UW, I have worked at the New York Public Library, King County Archives, New York University, and Columbia University (to name but a few).

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