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Carl B. Roden - William F. Poole research papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Roden

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence and writings of Carl Roden pertaining to William F. Poole, together with correspondence and writings of William F. Poole, publications and transcribed records from institutions and organizations with which Poole was affiliated, and biographical essays and newspaper clippings about him.

Includes William F. Poole's correspondence (mainly copies) with acquaintances and colleagues, and correspondence of Carl Roden relating to his research on Poole. There are notes and copies of multiple drafts of Roden's biography of Poole and writings (published and unpublished) of Poole. Also included are various newspaper clippings relating to milestones in Poole's life, publications and transcriptions of records from the various libraries where Poole worked, and the organizations in which he participated.


  • Creation: 1852-1956



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Carl B. Roden - William F. Poole research papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Carl B. Roden - William F. Poole research papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Carl B. Roden, 1870-1956

Fourth chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library, who conducted research for a biography of William F. Poole.

Born in 1870, Carl Bismarck Roden began as a library page in 1886, and he worked his way up the ranks to become chief of catalog division. Roden graduated from law school and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1891. He, however, never practiced law. He was appointed chief librarian in 1918 and served until 1950. During Roden's administration of the Chicago Public Library, the branch library system increased 50 percent; the staff more than doubled; the book stock increased threefold; circulation doubled; and total expenditures rose more than 400 percent. Under his aegis, the Chicago Public Library system became the largest circulating library in the world. Upon retirement, Roden took on the task of writing the biography of Chicago Public Library's first librarian: William F. Poole.

Biography of William F. Poole, 1821-1894

American Librarian, author of works of history and librarianship.

On Christmas Eve in 1821, William Frederick Poole was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Before attending Yale University in 1842, Poole was apprenticed as a jeweler. At Yale, Poole became the assistant librarian. During the course of his career, Poole was librarian of the Boston Athenaeum (1856-69), and of Cincinnati Public Library (1871-73). A pioneer in theories of library administration, he assisted in organizing many libraries, including the Chicago Public Library, the Newberry Library, and the library of the U.S. Naval Academy. His guide, Poole's Index to Periodical Literature was the first general guide to periodical literature in the United States. Poole also wrote numerous historical monographs including Cotton Mather and Salem Witchcraft (1869) and Anti-Slavery Opinions before 1800 (1873). Poole firmly placed himself as a giant of the library profession with his appointment as the first chief librarian of Chicago Public Library (1874-87) and the Newberry Library (1887-94) and as one of the founders and president of Chicago, Illinois and American library associations.


1.2 Linear Feet (3 boxes)


Correspondence, writings and research materials assembled by Chicago Public Library chief librarian, Carl B. Roden. Research materials include newspaper clippings, correspondence, and publications concerning or authored by William F. Poole.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1852-1956
Box 1
Series 2: Newspaper Clippings, 1890-1894
Box 1
Series 3: Writings, 1868-1956
Boxes 1-2
Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1855-1954
Box 3

Collection Stack Location

1 31 6


Gift of Marian Roden, June, 1975.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1949; Diana Haskell, 1977; Virginia H. Smith, 2000

Inventory of the Carl B. Roden - William F. Poole research papers, 1852-1956
Nona P. Martin
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States