Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Theresa West Elmendorf (1855-1932)

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, December 12, 2008 in Hall of Fame

elmendorf1.jpgTheresa West Elmendorf was inducted into the Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame on November 6, 2008. Theresa West became Deputy Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1880 when she was just 25 years old.  In 1882 she became the first member of the American Library Association from Wisconsin. After attending the 1890 American Library Association conference and learning of the creation of state library associations in some Eastern states, she came back and promoted a Wisconsin state library association. This idea came to fruition on February 11, 1891. West became Librarian of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1892 when the previous librarian, Klas Linderfelt, resigned.  She was the first woman to direct the public library of a large city in the United States. She held this post until 1896 when she married Henry Elmendorf, also a librarian.  After a brief time in London, England, they moved to Buffalo, New York where Henry Elmendorf became director of the Buffalo Public Library.  After the death of her husband in 1906, Theresa Elmendorf became Vice-Librarian of the Buffalo Public Library.  Active in the American Library Association, she became the first woman president of ALA in 1911-12. In the June 1911 issue of the Public Libraries magazine there was a report on the 1911 conference of the American Library Association where Elmendorf was elected President of ALA. The report said this about Elmendorf: "Mrs. Thresa West Elmendorf, the first woman to be honored by the association with its presidency, comes into the office by right of achievement greater than that of any other woman in the library field and of an equal grade with that of any man.  Her wholesome, sympathetic attitude toward library work and workers has been a distinct contribution to the craft and her freedom from personal ambition has made her a valuable aid in developing the power of the A. L. A. Her election to the presidency is a well-earned, a well-deserved honor, marking an epoch in which the A. L. A. honored itself in honoring her." In 1951 she was one of 40 of America’s most significant library leaders selected by the Library Journal for inclusion in a “ Library Hall of Fame". She is listed in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History. The photo of Elemendorf is reprinted with permission from the article "Pioneers of the Library Profession", by Joseph Adams Rathbone, The Wilson Library Bulletin, June 1949.


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Thursday, September 20, 2018


Popular Tags

Wisconsin Free Library Commission State Law Library Gerald A. Somers presentations Gertrude Thurow Academic Librarians Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Jerome P. Daniels library exhibit 27 American Library Association Library War Service Beloit Public Library Ice Storm Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Pewaukee Public Library Postcards Appleton Public Library Wisconsin Rapids background T. B. Scott Free Public Library Peter G. Hamon Library Buidlings Buttons Hall of Fame 2013 membership libraries Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends anniversaries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library Systems ca People Meter mail slogans Eager Free Public Library Gilbert H. Doane National Library Week Library e Soughton Public Library White House Conference on Library and Information Services Tower Hill Wisconsin Zona Gale Irene W. Newman Library Trustees WLA 125 Cam UW-Milwaukee Libraries Evansville Wisconsin Carnegie libraries School libraries Elroy Public Library WWI Library War Service Cornelia Marving Pierce Inform Wisconsin Cooperative Children's Book Center Events & Meetings Parcel post Hall of Fame 2010 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries DeForest Area Public Library Increase A. Lapham I Love Libraries Bernard Schwab Amer Milwaukee Art Museum WLA 125 caly film Rusk County Community Library Hall of Fame 2015 Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Wayne A. Wiegand Wisconsin Library Bulletin Uncategorized Ripon Public Library John Miller Chancellor Hall 28 WHCLIS Sarah Janice Kee Capitol Fire 1904 Public libraries Louise S. Robbins Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Events & Meetings Wisconsin Free Library Commission Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Events Wisconsin Historical Society Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide campaign campaign Hall of Fame 2016 Ruby Roeder 22 Black River Falls Public Library Manitowoc Public Library Clarence Brown Lester Postcards library legislation Hall of Fame 2012 cam 14 COLAND Clinton Public Library Oshkosh Public Library WAAL Suring Area Public Library Wisconsin Library Heritage Center Ruth Ann Montgomery Library Artifacts Larry T. Nix books-by-mail Public libraries Special libraries Bookmobiles Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Superior Carnegie Libraries World War I Hall of Fame 2012 WLA 125 Hall of Fame 2008 Campaign Frank Avery Hutchins Jane K. Billings Anniversaries CCBC Library people Postcards John J. Jax Beaver Dam Public Library Academic Libraries Hall of Fame 2015 23 Hall of Fame 2015 Hartford Public Library 20 state historical society Wisconsin Library Association Hall of Fame 2015 archives Campaign J. D. Witter UW-Madison school of library and information studies Milwaukee Public Library Eratus Swift Wilcox 21 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Postcards Centennial Council on Library and Network Development hall of Middleton Public Library Edward Asahel Birge Hall of Fame 2014 Katharine MacDonald Jones McMillan Memorial Library Nolan I. Neds Public library systems Sandra Friedman Dolnick Milwaukee Public Library Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Brown County Library Delia Ovitz Exhibits William J. Wilson James Duane Doty trav Marketing-Publicity Digital Collections buil Historical Register Lowell W. Wilson bed and breakfast library education Portage Public Library campaign Wisconsin State Law Library School of Library and Information Studies Hall of Fame 2011 Dorothea M. Krause Library People Black River Falls Library people Library celebrations Lutie Stearns campa Orrilla Blackshear traveling libraries Library History 24 National Bookmobile Day 11 Hall fo Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2017 Matthew S. Dudgeon 10 Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Campaign S. Janice Kee library memorabilia Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2012 Hall of Fame 2009 Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends American Library Association James Huff Stout WLA 125 Publications Brown Deer Public Library Hall of Fame 2015 Dianne McAfee Hopkins caly film Madison Public Library Richard E. Krug Lutie Eugenia Stearns Carl Spitzweg Library Buildings Woman's Congress caly film UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Charles Bunge Anniversaries Pinback buttons Klaus Linderfelt bookworm

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo