Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Robert D. Leigh papers, 1947-1955

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0765
Bib ID 4079555 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Leigh, Robert D. (Robert Devore), 1890-1961
Title Robert D. Leigh papers, 1947-1955
Physical Description 3 linear feet (7 boxes)
Language(s) English .
Other Finding Aids

Legacy Finding aid


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.



Arranged. Collection is in 2 series and several subseries in each.



Correspondence, documents, memoranda, reports, and clippings of book reviews. The correspondence is chiefly with public, university, and special libraries, and with foundations and other organizations. There is correspondence with several leading American librarians, such as Carleton Joeckel, Joseph Wheeler, and Charles C. Williamson. About one half of the collection contains the field reports, interview reports, questionnaires, vocational interest blanks, and related materials used for one Inquiry study by Oliver Garceau"Library Government and Politics", which was published by the Columbia University Press in 1949 as THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS. The manuscript of a report for the Russell Sage Foundation"The Nature of Public Communication", 1955, was added.

  • Series I: Public Library Inquiry

  • Series II: Library Government and Politics Study

    Includes Field Reports (Transcripts), Reports of Interviews (Transcripts), Forms and Questionnaires (Pierce Study), Forms and Questionnaires (Personnel Study). Reports on 60 representative United States Public Libraries. Includes general information in Field Reports and specific opinions and impressions by involved persons in these libraries in Reports of Interviews. Geared toward library government and politics. Field Reports and Reports of Interviews divided into sections: I. The Institutions; II. Governing Authority of the Library; III. The Librarian as Chief Executive; IV. Library and Community; V. Library and Schools; VI. Key Processes in Library Government; VII. The Library and the Profession; VIII. The Library and the State Library Agency; IX. Working Relations with Other Library Services; X. Special Types of Library Service; XI. Aspirations. Each interview includes list of persons interviewed and by whom. Includes some statistical appendixes. Forms and questionnaires relating to time distribution, technical processes and library services, work measurement (blank sheets), statistical tables, etc. Pierce Study. Forms and questionnaires including drafts of questions for interviews, Leigh letter re questionnaire, Guilford-Martin Inventory, Vocational Interest Blank for Women, Checklist for libraries of Books Held, etc.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Other Finding Aids

Legacy Finding aid

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); Robert D. Leigh papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Ownership and Custodial History

Transferred from the School of Library Service, 1974, 1981 & 1985 (originally given by R.D. Leigh in 1960).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--School if Library Service. Method of acquisition--Transfer; Date of acquisition--1974. Accession number--M-1974.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged BRC 8/28/74. Processed JLW 09/27/85.

The papers of Robert D. Leigh, on which I worked, were those pertaining to the Public Library Inquiry that he organized and headed while at Columbia. I received a large number of loose papers, folders, and bound volumes, dating between 1947 and 1953. These papers were of a mixed nature, official, semiofficial, and personal, yet were all related to the Inquiry, itself. Many were the actual working material of the Project.

Although these papers were in a disorganized state, upon further examination they fell into cohesive groups and a natural order, which followed closely the progression of the Inquiry. The papers included correspondence, official documents of the Inquiry, statistical data, rough drafts of reports, memoranda, and a missive number of clippings of reviews. The bound volumes contained Inquiry documents and several reports relating closely to the project.

In working with Dr. Leigh's correspondence, I found eighty-two pieces, dating between September 1949 and March 1952, all pertaining to the study. The letters were exchanged with institutions, for the most part - public library systems, university libraries, and government offices - and with individuals, in some cases. Although some contained personal references, all were basically on the subject of the Inquiry and were most logically arranged in chronological order.

There was among the papers, a large portion that were Inquiry documents, statements of goals, progress reports, and memoranda to the staff. Included among these I found several pieces which were working papers of the project - data sheets and charts, evaluations and rough drafts - all handwritten. In this group, I was able to follow the Principle of Provenance, leaving the basic original order, with a few minor adjustments. These were numbered in folders.

The greatest bulk of papers was a massive number of clipped reviews, dating from February 1947 to Winter 1951. These, I sorted chronologically and arranged by year. In addition, I designated separate folders for the collections of reviews on related reports which had been clipped and pasted on manila folders. These were arranged alphabetically, according to the various authors.

Finally, I found ten bound volumes. Of these, two were Inquiry documents, in temporary bindings. These were removed, placed in folders and integrated appropriately, in this case, among the official documents, in chronological sequence. The other volumes, containing reports relating to the Inquiry, were in permanent bindings. They were labelled accordingly, numbered, and added at the conclusion of the collection.

Although the collection was disorganized upon initial examination, it fell quickly into an order of its own., resembling the original progression of the project. In many cases, I was able to observe the Principle of Provenance. This part of the Robert D. Leigh Papers comprises two boxes of material, which move in logical sequence through the various steps of the Public Library Inquiry.

Revision Description

November 2020 PDF replaced with full finding aid, YH

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:"
Charts (graphic documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Questionnaires Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Statistics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Surveys (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Academic libraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Endowments -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Garceau, Oliver, 1911-1987 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Grams, Theodore C. W. (Theodore Carl William), 1918- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Librarians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Political aspects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Surveys Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public libraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public libraries -- Political aspects Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Public libraries -- Surveys Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Research Directors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Russell Sage Foundation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Social Science Research Council (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Special libraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Surveys Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wheeler, Joseph Lewis, 1884-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Williamson, Charles C (Charles Clarence), 1877-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Director of the Inquiry, 1947-1950 & author (Columbia University M.A. 1915, Ph.D. 1927). The Public Library Inquiry was a comprehensive survey of the American public library system by the Social Science Research Council.