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Anne Carroll Moore: Our First Supervisor of Work with Children

Anne Carroll Moore in her office at The New York Public Library, 1906.

Anne Carroll Moore, an innovator in the field of children's librarianship, was born in Limerick, Maine on July 12, 1871. Anne was the youngest of the eight children of Luther Sanborn Moore and Sarah Hidden Barker, and the only daughter. She was particularly close to her father, who was a lawyer
and had served as president of the State Senate of Maine. Anne was educated at the Limerick Academy, and then the Branford Academy for Women in Massachusetts. She graduated in 1891, and then began the study of law under her father's instruction. Her pursuit of a legal career ended
upon the death of both of her parents, a few days apart in January 1892. She entered the Library School at Pratt Institute in 1895, and graduated the following year at the age of twenty-five. In the fall of 1896, Mary Wright Plummer, the director of the school, offered Moore a position as children's
librarian at the Pratt Institute Free Library. The children's library was a new venture for Pratt, and Moore was granted the opportunity to design it as she wished. She took a great deal of initiative and established new programs of storytelling and poetry for children.

In 1906, Dr. Arthur Bostwick, Chief of the Circulation Department of the New York Public Library, recruited Moore to head the Library's newly established Office of Work with Children. In this position Moore hired and trained children's librarians, oversaw book purchases and planned children's rooms for many neighborhood library branches constructed by NYPL during this period. The NYPL Central Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, which opened in 1911, included a Central Children's Room. She encouraged the extension of borrowing privileges to children, and initiated the custom of “the pledge” - each child signed his or her name in an enrollment book after reciting: “When I write my name in this book I promise to take good care of the books I use at home and in the library, and to obey the rules of the library” (Sayers, p. 68). The pledge created a bond between the child and the library, and instilled a sense of responsibility.

Moore encouraged events and celebrations planned around special subject areas. These events were also designed to develop a love of reading. She hosted a celebration in the children's room for St. Nicholas' Eve every December 5th. She was a strong advocate for storytelling as a library event. Walter de la Mare, Ludwig Bemelmans and Carl Sandburg were among the authors who presented at the Central Children's Room. She was most influential in the promotion of storyteller Marie
Shedlock's career in the United States, as well as in France. For five years she assisted with booking Shedlock's engagements and planning her United States itinerary.

In 1918 Moore inaugurated the pamphlet, Children's Books Suggested as Holiday Gifts, and she oversaw its publication until her retirement in 1941. She was among the first to purchase books for immigrant children in their native languages. She also organized the first Children's Book Week in
1919. In that same year she began writing abot children's literature and reviewed books for The Horn Book, The Bookman and The New York Herald Tribune. The latter carried her column, The Three Owls, from 1924-1930. Moore believed the owls symbolized the writer, the artist and the critic.
Moore was involved with the American Library Association, and participated in the founding
of that organization's Children's Librarian Section in 1900. She visited Europe several times. Her influence was felt among the libraries in France, England and Sweden. It was through her influence that the first children's library was opened in Stockholm in 1911.

In 1921, Moore joined the American Committee for Devastated France. Anne Morgan, daughter of J. Pierpont Morgan, was its Founder. In the aftermath of World War One, the Committee assisted thirty villages behind the lines. In 1919, when physical needs of the villagers were met, the Committee moved on to social concerns and addressed the issue of libraries.

Moore authored two children's books of her own: Nicholas: A Manhattan Christmas Story (1924) and Nicholas and the Golden Goose (1932). Nicholas was an eight-inch wooden doll with articulated arms and legs, which could stand free of support. He was purchased, at Bloomingdale's, by a library
employee during the 1920 Christmas season. Nicholas was a constant presence in the library, and is frequently a subject in Moore's correspondence.

There are several compilations of her reviews and literary criticism: Roads to Childhood (1920), New Roads to Childhood (1923), Crossroads to Childhood (1926), The Three Owls (1931), and My Roads to Childhood (1939). She also authored A Century of Kate Greenaway (1946).

Moore's 25th Anniversary with the NYPL was celebrated on October 14, 1931 in the children's room. It was reported by the New York Herald Tribune as avery festive party, with over three hundred guests in attendance.

She cultivated lasting professional relationships with illustrator Leslie Brooke (The Three Little Pigs), author/illustrator Beatrix Potter, Eleanor Farjeon and librarian Carolyn Hewins.

In 1915, Moore had a unique relationship with Leo Frank. He provided his attorneys with her name as a reference from his youth. Frank remembered Moore from his visits to the Pratt Children's Library. Moore wrote articles and letters on Frank's behalf during the attempted appeals of his
sentence, and visited him during his incarceration in Atlanta.

Anne Carroll Moore retired in from the New York Public Library in 1941. During the years after her retirement from the NYPL she continued to write and teach. She taught at the Graduate School of Library Studies in Berkeley, California, and lectured in Utah.

Moore began consulting on The Art of Beatrix Potter in 1952. She wrote the Appreciation and Introduction for this book which Frederick Warne & Co. published in 1955.

Her contributions were acknowledged by her professional colleagues and in the press. Moore was twice awarded the Doctor of Letters; in 1940 from the University of Maine; and in 1955 from Pratt Institute. In 1960 she was awarded the Regina Medal of the Catholic Library Association. Anne
Carroll Moore died in New York City on January 20, 1961. Her obituary appeared in the New York Times the following day.

Francis Sayers, Moore's successor at the NYPL, published Anne Carroll Moore : A Biography in 1972.

Article by Julie Miller, May 1988
Revised by Julia Mucci, May 2004

Anne Carroll Moore, ca. 1930s.

Web resources for Anne Carroll Moore:

The Anne Carroll Moore papers at The New York Public Library

Roads To Childhood by Anne Carroll Moore, 1920. (full text from Google Books)

A brief biographical sketch of Anne Carroll Moore by Erin Okamoto.

The Three Owls Notebook: book reviews by Anne Carroll Moore in the Horn Book Magazine, December 1952.

Other Resources:

My Roads to Childhood : Views and Reviews of Children's Books by Anne Carroll Moore, 1939.

Anne Carroll Moore; A Biography by Frances Clarke Sayers, 1972

Check The New York Public Library catalogs for additional resources:

LEO: Branch Libraries Catalog

CATNYP: Research Libraries Catalog

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