Sunday, May 29, 2011


Alice O’Connor was a much beloved children’s librarian at NYPL and her connections to the profession originated in childhood.  She grew up in Hartford CT and as a child was a member of the Agassiz Club, a children’s book group organized by Caroline Hewins, one of the pioneering children’s librarians in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.      

O’Connor was a member of the first class of the NYPL Library School and received her two-year degree in 1913.  She worked as a children’s librarian in four NYPL branches, 1913-1923.

O’Connor took a leave of absence in 1920-1921 to work with the American Committee for Devastated France.  There she organized and directed a new children’s library in Soissons, France.

Two years after her return to NYPL Alice O’Connor was appointed Branch Librarian at the Seward Park Branch but had to resign the following year to return to Hartford to care for her ailing mother.   She did resume her career by becoming the head librarian of the Farmington (CT) Public Library, 1924-1928.

Alice K. O’Connor died in Hartford at the age of 42 after a serious illness. 


  1. My name is Michael Miller. I am doing research for a book on one of my ancestors Dr. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill in Albemarle County, Virginia. Dr. Walker was the founder of Charlottesville, Virginia and one of the first people to explore and map Kentucky. Through my research I discovered today Alice Keats O'Connor was a Great Great Great Granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker. Thank you for this blog.

  2. Alice served as a volunteer with the YMCA in France during WWI. She arrived in France in 1918, worked at the Y canteen in Aix-Les-Bains and oversaw the large library for the men on leave there. When she was reassigned to Baccarat, she set up a Y canteen near the front. She later moved as the troops did carrying supplies and establishing canteens along the way, despite danger and rough conditions. After the Armistice, she was sent to Verdun and assisted with volunteer organizations aiding freed allied soldiers who had been Germany's prisoners. Then she went to Coblenz, Germany, with the Army of Occupation and became head of the several hundred YMCA women working there. She returned home in July 1919 but went back to Europe to help with the libraries in war-torn France.
    Information from
    Lettie Gavin, American Women in World War I: They Also Served. University Press of Colorado, 1997. 136-137
    First-hand accounts of Alice's work are in
    Marian Baldwin Steiner, Canteening Overseas. Macmillan, 1920.