Saturday, May 11, 2013


Leona Durkes was born in Illinois and earned her BA from Wellesley College in 1924.  After graduation she worked in bookstores in Boston.

Durkes entered the NYPL Training Class in 1929 and received a regular Library appointment that same year.  She temporarily left NYPL to earn her library degree at the University of Illinois in 1932.

Durkes returned to NYPL in 1932 and six years later was promoted to Branch Librarian at the Washington Heights Branch.  She transferred to head the 96th Street Branch in 1943.

In 1936 she married Burr Polk Wilson (1905-1963) of Ossining NY.

Leona Durkes Wilson‘s major impact on NYPL came after being a Branch Librarian.  In 1949 NYPL created a specialty office for Reference Services, and Wilson was named the first head of that unit.  In 1953 Wilson became just the second Coordinator of Adult Services.  Wilson often wrote on adult education during the six years she headed the Office of Adult Services. 

Leona Durkes Wilson retired from NYPL after 30 years of service and went to work as a librarian at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Leonora Hinsdale was one of a small group of Catholic parishioners who assisted in the organization of the Cathedral Free Library, which opened in 1888.  Also in the group was her cousin E. Corrine Doughty  (1859-1933), who would later head three NYPL branches.

In 1905, the CFL consolidated with NYPL, and Hinsdale was named First Assistant at the Cathedral Branch.  In 1909 Hinsdale was promoted to Branch Librarian at the Columbus Branch and later headed the Hamilton Grange Branch until her retirement in 1936.

For most of her life, Hinsdale lived with two other NYPL librarians.  As early as 1880 she lived with her cousin E. Corinne Doughty and continued to do so until Doughty’s death in 1933.  From at least 1910 Mary C. Griffin (1866-????) also lived with the two cousins.  Griffin served as First Assistant under Hinsdale at both the Columbus and Hamilton Grange branches, and the two librarians retired on the same day in 1936.  They are listed in the 1940 census as “partners” indicating they told the census taker that they shared expenses equally.