Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Isadore Gilbert Mudge papers, 1875-1977, bulk 1910-1957

Summary Information


The Isadore Gilbert Mudge Collection includes correspondence, writing, and publications related to Isadore Gilbert Mudge (1875 –1957) and her career as a reference librarian at Columbia from 1911 to 1941.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0908
Bib ID 4079139 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Mudge, Isadore Gilbert, 1875-1957
Title Isadore Gilbert Mudge papers, 1875-1977, bulk 1910-1957
Physical Description 2.09 linear feet (5 manuscript boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days 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 four series.



This collection contains materials created by and about Isadore Gilbert Mudge, a reference librarian at Columbia University from 1911 to 1941. The collection consists of correspondence, notes, publications, and a copy of a dissertation about Mudge written by John Waddell. The material within all folders, where applicable, is arranged in chronological order. The collection contains significant material in the form of card files (arranged alphabetically) and other printed materials (including correspondence) relating to Mudge's notes on children's periodicals that were used by Columbia's Library Cataloging Department to prepare cards for the Historical Collection of Children's Literature. John Waddell's manuscript The Career of Isadore G. Mudge is arranged in two folders by chapter (folder 1 contains chapters 1-7; folder 2 contains chapters 8-13 and appendices). The other correspondence in this collection ranges from professional to personal with family members and other friends, dating from 1910, approximately the time of her appointment at Columbia, to her death in 1957. The last series in the collection of writing and other printed materials includes Mudge's publications in Bulletin of the ALA (1930), The Library Journal (1934), New York State Education (1949), The Saturday Review (1952), and The Bulletin of the NYPL (1953), as well as her reference guides (1911-1934), speeches and articles (1934-1942), and her travel journal (1939). This series also contains various other personal materials, including biographical and family information, legal and financial documents, and passports.

  • Series I: Notes on Children's Periodical

    Contains materials related to Isadore Mudge Gilbert's work with children's periodicals during her time at Columbia. The series includes signed copies of British Literature: A Critical Survey and 232 Author Bibliographies by Fred B. Millett and The American Library Directory, 1927, both addressed to Mudge. It also includes card files of titles that the Columbia University Libraries Cataloging Department later used to prepare a catalog for the Historical Collection of Children's Literature. In addition, receipts from domestic and international book sellers and photocopies of various magazine pages appear in this series, as well as correspondence related to children's periodicals and bibliographical notes and lists regarding the library's collections.

  • Series II: Manuscript

    Consists of a typed, unpublished manuscript entitled The Career of Isadore G. Mudge, submitted as a dissertation for a Doctorate in Library Science by John Waddell in 1973.

  • Series III: Correspondence

    Includes correspondence with Isadore G. Mudge and her family regarding her life and work as well as unidentified letters. The letters written by or to Mudge consist primarily of correspondence regarding research questions and the origins of various quotations, the publications of books and articles, including the George Eliot Dictionary and an edition of "Romola" edited by Mudge, and administrative correspondence with officers of Columbia University. The series also contains two accounts of the blitz during World War II, written in Quantock, Essex in 1940 and 1941. Letters to the Mudge family are also included in the series and primarily discuss gifts made to Columbia and Johns Hopkins in memory of Isadore G. Mudge, letters of condolences upon her passing, and requests for biographical information about Mudge. Most of these letters are addressed to Eugene Mudge, nephew of Isadore G. Mudge. The series also contains letters addressed to Mary G. Mudge and Alfred E. Mudge and an obituary from the UCLA Librarian, as well as unidentified letters.

  • Series IV: Writings and Printed Materials

    Contains a variety of writings and printed materials including various funeral notices, legal and financial documents, and drawings and photographs of landscapes and literary figures Library-related publications as well as reference guides, articles, and speeches by Mudge throughout the course of her career appear in this series, as do invitations to and correspondence regarding a dinner held in her honor in 1942. The series also includes passports and a travel diary from Isadore G. Mudge's trips abroad, a personal calendar, a copy of James Shotwell's "The Way" signed to Mudge, and miscellaneous notes and writings.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days 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); Isadore Gilbert Mudge papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Butler Library, Reference Department Files

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Notes on Children's Periodicals material Purchased 1957.

Addition donated by John T. B. Mudge in May 2015.

The first three boxes were processed by RBML staff in the 1950s.

The 2015 addition was processed by Chris Cary (CC'15) and Jocelyn Wilk.

Finding aid was edited by Chris Cary (CC'15), Emily Burns (CC '17) and Jocelyn Wilk in August 2015.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publications (document genre) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speeches (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theses Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Library Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Booksellers and bookselling -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Booksellers and bookselling -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bryn Mawr College Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Children's periodicals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Library Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Library Service Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Librarians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mudge, Isadore Gilbert, 1875-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
University of Illinois Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Waddell, John Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Isadore Gilbert Mudge was born on March 14, 1875 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Brooklyn's Adelphi Academy and received a bachelor of philosophy degree from Cornell University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa for her outstanding scholarship. Following her graduation from Cornell, Mudge went to Albany to attend the New York State Library School, receiving her Bachelor of Library Science degree with distinction in 1900.

Mudge first worked as head reference librarian at the University of Illinois: Urbana in 1900, and was also an associate professor at the University of Illinois Library School. In 1903, she accepted the position of head librarian at Bryn Mawr, where she worked until 1908. From 1910 to 1912, Mudge also served as a part-time instructor in reference and documents at Simmons College.

In 1911, Mudge began working in the library at Columbia University, which allowed her the opportunity to further her goal of increasing student independence in research and improving reference collections with several specific types of sources, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, and an atlas, among others. She coined the phrase "material, mind, and method" to describe her reference philosophy when she began teaching the class "Bibliography and Bibliographic Methods" as an associate professor at Columbia's School of Library Services in 1927. Between 1917 and 1936 while at Columbia, Mudge edited the American Library Association's Guide to Reference Books, a comprehensive bibliography of reference tools. She retired in 1941 and died on May 16, 1957 in Lutherville, Maryland. To honor her career, the ALA created the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Citation in 1958 for librarians who make distinguished contributions to reference librarianship.