Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Hannah Ellis was a pioneering children’s librarian before coming to NYPL.  She began her career in Wisconsin in 1900 and twice enrolled in summer courses at the University of Wisconsin library school.  In 1907 she moved to the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh as a children’s librarian and then became head of a branch which served users from 25 nations.  She also enrolled as a special student in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library School, a pioneering school for the training of children’s librarians. 

Ellis came to NYPL in 1917 and almost immediately was appointed to head the Hamilton Fish Park Branch, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  She continued to work with children and young people but also focused on service to the foreign born.  Hannah C. Ellis retired in 1939. 

In 1920, Hannah Ellis spoke on a panel devoted to work with the foreign-born at the annual meeting of the NY Library Association.  Her words expressed the intense belief of many librarians in the importance of books, reading and libraries in American life.

Working in a library always swarming with young people, realizing that in a few years they will be the controlling influence in politics and industry makes us very serious in the matter; and the faith we have that in books may be found the wisdom and inspiration for solving many of the problems that this younger generation faces, gives us a feeling of great responsibility in our work of making the library significant during these years that are the heart of life.”

Today would be the 140th birthday of Hannah C. Ellis.

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