Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Helen E. Wessells papers, 1921-1978

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1319
Bib ID 4078370 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Wessells, Helen E (Helen Elizabeth), 1903-
Title Helen E. Wessells papers, 1921-1978
Physical Description 4.59 linear feet (11 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

The following boxes are located offsite: 2-11. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in 4 series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Subject Files; Series III: Printed Materials; Series IV: Photographs.



Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, subject files, photographs and memorabilia. There is correspondence with Australian librarians, government officials, and U.S. information services officers; manuscripts of her articles, addresses, reports and procedural manuals; Australian library publications and other printed materails. In addition there are some general correspondence files and a few files relating to Wessells' career in the United States, including the New York Public Library, the Victory Book Campaign (1943), the American Library Association and its International Relations Round Table. The cataloged correspondence consists of one letter each from Louis Adamic, Pearl S. Buck, Henry Seidel Canby, Marion Ponsonby Gause Canby, and Daniel A. Poling.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located offsite: 2-11. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Helen E. Wessells papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Alternate Form Available

Pearl S. Buck letter is on: microfilm.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Processed BRC/RL 08/--/85.

Revision Description

2020-04-10 PDF replaced with full finding aid (JR)

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Library Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Librarians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Asia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Australia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States Information Service Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Office of War Information Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Librarian (Columbia School of Library Service, 1926); Librarian at NYPL Port Richmond branc, 1929-1941; information consultant and cultural officer in Australia for the U.S. Office of War Information during World War II, 1943-1947; and a director of Asian libraries for the U.S. Information Service, 1948-1951. Wessells was one of a number of librarians whose mission was to foster domestic understanding for America's war effort in allied and neutral nations. She contributed to library development in Australia and later was a planner and spokesperson for the American model of library service in Asia.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only CU affiliates may view materials on-site. YOU MUST REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE PLACING REQUESTS. Email rbml@library.columbia.edu to request an appointment. You may submit a request for materials once your appointment is confirmed. Affiliates will login with their uni and password, and need to register the first time they make a request.

Series I: Correspondence

Box 1 Adamic, Louis

Box 1 Buck, Pearl S.

Box 1 Canby, Henry S.

Box 1 Canby, Marion Ponsonby Gause

Box 1 Poling, Daniel A.

Series II: Subject Files

American Library Association

Box 1 A.L.A. Bulletin, 1959

Box 1 Awards Board and Committee

Box 1 International Relations Round Table, 5 folders

Box 2 Miscellaneous

Box 2 Public Relation Section

Australian Libraries-Office of War Information


Box 2 undated

Box 2 1943

Box 2 1944

Box 2 1945

Box 2 1946

Box 2 1947

Box 2 Manuscripts by Wessells

Box 2 Personal Correspondence and Documents

Box 3 Reports, 1943-1947, 2 folders

Box 3 Riverina Report, 1947

Box 3 Australian Libraries-Prison Libraries, 1963

Box 3 Council of National Library Association-Visiting Foreign Librarians, 2 folders

Box 3 Columbia University-School of Library Service-Alumni Advisory Committee

Box 3 Connecticut Survey


Box 4 undated, 1921-1946

Box 4 1947-1949

Box 4 1950-1959

Box 4 1960-1978

Box 4 International Library Information Center

Box 4 International Library Information Center-Visiting Foreign Librarians

Box 4 Library Journal Editorship-Correspondence

Box 4 Libraries-Overseas

Box 4 Manuscripts by Wessells-Librarianship-Aspect

Box 4 Manuscripts by Wessells-Milam's Idea

Box 5 Memorabilia

Box 5 New Books Preview, 1967-1969

Box 5 New York Public Library-Port Richmond Branch-Workbook, 1941

(Wessells served as Librarian for this branch of the NYPL from 1929 to 1941.)

United States Information Service

Box 5 Correspondence, 1948, 1950-1951


Box 5 Afghanistan, Kabul

Box 5 Belgium, Brussels

Box 5 Burma, Rangoon

Box 6 Ceylon, Colombo

Box 6 England, London

Box 6 France, Paris

Box 6 Hong Kong

Box 6 India, Bombay

Box 6 India, Calcutta

Box 6 India, Madras

Box 6 India, New Delhi

Box 6 lndochina, Saigon

Box 6 Indonesia, Djakarta

Box 6 Iraq, Baghdad

Box 6 Lebanon, Beirut

Box 6 Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Box 6 Pakistan, Karachi

Box 6 Pakistan, Lahore

Box 6 Singapore

Box 6 Syria, Damascus

Box 6 Thailand, Bangkok

Box 6 Turkey, Ankara

Box 6 Turkey, Istanbul

Box 6 Manual of Operations, 1950

Box 6 Manuscript, 1947

Box 6 Manuscript by Wessells, 1950

Box 6 Manuscript by Wessells - An Introduction to American the Viewpoint, 1951

Box 6 Memoranda

Box 7 Reports, 2 folders

Box 7 25th Planning

Box 7 Victory Books Campaign, 1943

Box 7 Wessells, Helen E.-Biographical Materials

Series III: Printed Materials

Australian Libraries Printed Materials

Box 8 Articles About Wessells, 2 folders

Box 8 Articles By Wessells, 2 folders

Box 9 Australia and Libraries

Box 9 Government Documents

Box 9 Office of War Information

Lead Magazine

(Leads: A Fact Sheet, the quarterly publication of the Round Table on Library Service Abroad, edited by Wessells from 1957 to 1972)

Box 10 Bound Volumes 1-11

Box 10 Bound Volumes 12-18

Box 10 Bound Volumes 19-25

Box 10 Library About Wessells

Box 10 Library By Wessells

Series IV: Photographs

Box 11 Burma, Rangoon Libraries

Box 11 United States Information Library

Box 11 Williamstown