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 Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo