Harry Miller Lydenberg (1874-1960) was an American librarian, scholar, and the third director of the New York Public Library, from 1934 to 1941. His work for the library spanned nearly forty years. The collection dates from 1892 to 1961 and contains correspondence, writings, photographs, and other materials that document Lydenberg's career and personal interests.
Biographical/historical: Harry Miller Lydenberg, NYPL Director, bibliographer and author was born on November 18, 1876 in Dayton, Ohio, the eldest son of Wesley Braxton Lydenberg and Marianna Miller. After graduating from Harvard University in 1896 with an A. B., Lydenberg moved to New York City. He began his career as a cataloguer for the New York Public Library. Lydenberg's next appointment was to be the first to manage the Manuscript Division for three years. This was followed by appointments as assistant to the Director 1899-1908; Chief Reference Librarian 1909-1927; Assistant Director 1928-1934 and Director 1934-1941.
In the Fall of 1923 Lydenberg, then Chief Reference Librarian, undertook a trip to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in order to re-establish contacts for the acquisition of library materials that had been cut during World War I and the Russian Revolution. During the trip Lydenberg traveled to Canada; London; Paris; Brussels; Amsterdam; Berlin and Leipzig, Germany; Riga, Latvia; Moscow, Petrograd, and Kiev, Soviet Union; Lwow, Warsaw, and Krakow, Poland; Belgrade; Prague; Leipzig; Paris; London; Edinburgh; and Liverpool. While in the Soviet Union, Lydenberg was accompanied by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Chief of the Library's Slavonic Division, and his wife.
After Lydenberg retired from the NYPL, he organized and was Director of the Bibliotheca Benjamin Franklin in Mexico City under the sponsorship of the co-ordinator of the Inter-American Affairs and the American Library Association 1941-1943. In 1943, he became Director of the American Library Association's Board on International Relations in Washington and in 1946, a member of the Library of Congress Purchasing Mission to Germany. Lydenberg's other professional activities include being President of the American Library Association, the Bibliographical Society of America and the New York Library Club. Lydenberg published over 200 works, among them the History of the New York Public Library, 1923; John Shaw Billings. 1924; The Care and Repair of Books, 1931; and Crossing the Line, 1957.
Lydenberg married Madeliene Day in 1912, and there were two children John and Mary. Lydenberg died April 17, 1960 in Westerville, Ohio and was survived by his family.
Content: The Harry Miller Lydenberg papers date from 1892 to 1961 and document his interest in library-related matters, particularly after he retired from the New York Public Library.
General Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, primarily consists of incoming letters. Subjects include his service as director of Bibliotheca Benjamin Franklin in New Mexico; conservation treatment of library materials; and other business and personal matters. Subject Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, overlaps the same areas as the general correspondence, particularly on the effect of World War II on libraries. Prominent correspondents include Edwin Hatfield Anderson, Paul A. Bennett, Willa Cather, Verner W. Clapp, Wilberforce Eames, Charlton C. Jernigan, Helmut Kuhn, Lewis Cass Ledyard, Frederick C. Melcher, Keyes Metcalf and Charles E. Rush. Organizations documented in the correspondence include the American Antiquarian Society; the American Book Center for Devastated Libraries, Inc.; American Council for Learned Societies; the American Library Association (ALA); American Philosophical Society; and Bibliotheca Benjamin Franklin. The New York Public Library correspondence is after Lydenberg's tenure as director. His correspondents are John Archer, Ralph Beals, Karl Brown, Edward G. Freehafer and Karl Kup. Writings and Speeches contain typescripts, correspondence, notes, and printed material relating to Lydenberg's writings. Personal assorted papers regard personal subject interests, including family and genealogical history. Photographs are of Lydenberg; his relatives and ancestors; and friends and libraries, primarily after World War II. There is an album of Lydenberg and associates visiting Europe, Russia, and the Balkans on a library mission between 1923 and 1924. Letters written to Lydenberg's wife, Madeliene Day Lydenberg, are also included.
Additional materials were processed and integrated into the collection in 1987, 1989, and 2015. Materials consist of correspondence; writings; certificates and awards; and a small amount of material relating to Lydenberg's work as the director of the ALA Office of International Relations.
Ownership: 1941 Lydenberg, Harry M.; Lydenberg family; Deoch Fulton; Mrs. William Davis Gift 9 cartons and 16 boxes