Moore, Anne Carroll (1871–1961)

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Moore, Anne Carroll (1871–1961)

American librarian, lecturer, writer, and children's book critic who was a pioneer in the field of children's librarianship. Born Anne Carroll Moore on July 12, 1871, in Limerick, Maine; died on January 20, 1961, in New York City; daughter of Luther Sanborn Moore (a lawyer) and Sarah Hidden (Barker) Moore; attended Limerick Academy, 1881–89; attended Bradford Academy for Women, Bradford, Massachusetts, 1889–91; attended Pratt Institute Library School, Brooklyn, New York, 1895–96.

Became head of new children's department at Pratt Institute (1897); helped establish and was firstchair of the Club of Children's Librarians, American Library Association (1900); became supervisor of children's division of New York Public Library (1906), where she revolutionized children's library practices, expanded storytelling, and initiated book review programs; helped establish Children's Book Week, also began reviewing children's literature for The Bookman (1918); issued annual list of "Children's Books Suggested as Holiday Gifts" (1918–41); edited "The Three Owls" column of criticism in New York Herald Tribune (1924–30); retired from New York Public Library (1940); accepted position with University of California at Berkeley graduate school of librarianship (1941).


American Library Association; English Speaking Union; New York State Library Association; New York Library Club. Received Pratt Institute Diploma of Honor (1932); honorary doctorates from University of Maine (1940) and Pratt Institute (1955); firstConstance Lindsay Skinner Gold Medal from the Women's National Book Association (1940); Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association (1960).

Selected writings:

A List of Books Recommended for a Children's Library (Iowa Printing, 1903); Joseph A. Altsheler and American History (1919); Roads to Childhood: Views and Reviews of Children's Books (Doran, 1920); New Roads to Childhood (Doran, 1923); Nicholas: A Manhattan Christmas Story (Putnam, 1924); The Three Owls: A Book about Children's Books, Their Authors, Artists and Critics (Macmillan, 1925); Cross-Roads to Childhood (Doran, 1926); (editor) Washington Irving, Knickerbocker's History of New York (Doubleday, Doran, 1928); The Three Owls Second Book: Contemporary Criticism of Children's Books (Coward-McCann, 1928); (editor) Washington Irving, Bold Dragoon and Other Ghostly Tales (Knopf, 1930); The Three Owls Third Book: Contemporary Criticism of Children's Books (Coward, 1931); Nicholas and the Golden Goose (Putnam, 1932); Seven Stories High (Compton, 1932); The Choice of a Hobby: A Unique Descriptive List of Books Offering Inspiration and Guidance to Hobby Riders and Hobby Hunters (Compton, 1934); Reading for Pleasure (Compton, 1935); My Roads to Childhood: Views and Reviews of Children's Books (Doubleday, Doran, 1939); A Century of Kate Greenaway (Warne, 1946); (editor with Bertha Mahony Miller, illustrated by Valenti Angelo) Writing and Criticism: A Book for Margery Bianco (The Horn Book, 1951); (author of appreciation)Beatrix Potter , The Art of Beatrix Potter (Warne, 1955).

Anne Carroll Moore was born on July 12, 1871, in Limerick, Maine, the last of ten children of Sarah Barker Moore and Luther Sanborn Moore, a lawyer. She was also their only surviving daughter, and enjoyed a happy childhood with six doting older brothers. These early years would become the source of her deep love for children and her appreciation of the place reading should have in childhood. Moore graduated from Limerick Academy in 1889 and from Bradford Academy for Women in Bradford, Massachusetts, in 1891. It had been her childhood dream to grow up and read law with her father, and she did, for about six months, until her parents fell ill with influenza in January 1892. Both died within two days of each other. Later in 1892 one of her sisters-in-law died in childbirth (a common occurrence at the time), and Moore cared for two nieces for the following two years.

In 1895, having apparently given up her aspirations of becoming a lawyer, she entered the library school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The next year, she was asked to head the institute's new children's department, the first library area designed specifically for children in the country. (The young Leo Frank frequently visited the children's department; in 1913, after he was unjustly arrested and imprisoned in Atlanta for the murder of Mary Phagan , Moore traveled there to plead for his release before he was lynched.) During the ten years she spent at Pratt, Moore instituted storytelling hours and implemented her conceptual ideas of a children's library as an educational tool. At a meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1900, she was the impetus in organizing the Club of Children's Librarians, and served as its first chair. (The club later became the ALA's Children's Services Division.)

In 1906, Moore moved to the New York Public Library, where she helped to establish and became supervisor of its first children's division. Within two years, she had achieved professional status for the children's librarians of the various branches of the New York Public Library system. She instituted storytelling hours here too, and did away with the age limits that barred children from some branch libraries. Moore studied the behavior and psychology of children, and established a calendar of special events, speakers, and exhibits designed to pique interest and stimulate intellectual growth among her small library patrons.

Moore was asked in 1918 to deliver a series of lectures on children's literature, which led the following year to the creation of an annual Children's Book Week. She also began regularly reviewing for The Bookman in 1918, and initiated

her annual "Children's Books Suggested as Holiday Gifts" list, which continued until 1941. Moore edited a page of children's literary criticism, "The Three Owls," for the New York Herald Tribune from 1924 to 1930. Considered by contemporaries "the yea or nay of all children's literature," the column appeared after 1936 in The Horn Book Magazine, which had been founded by her colleague and occasional collaborator Bertha Mahony Miller . Moore wrote extensively, producing criticism and compilations of critical essays and lists, including The Three Owls: A Book About Children's Books, Their Authors, Artists, and Critics (1925), Reading for Pleasure (1935), and A Century ofKate Greenaway (1946). She also authored two children's stories herself: Nicholas: A Manhattan Christmas Story (1924) and Nicholas and the Golden Goose (1932).

Anne Carroll Moore was forced to retire from the New York Public Library, very much against her will, in 1940, at the age of 70. The following year, she accepted an invitation to teach at the graduate school of librarianship at the University of California at Berkeley. She died in New York City in 1961 at the age of 89. A pioneer in her field, during her long career she revolutionized libraries' attitudes towards children's divisions and was integral in developing respect for children's literature. As her biographer Frances Clarke Sayers noted, she "was obsessed by the knowledge of what excellence in books could mean to children."


Contemporary Authors. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1961.

Moore, Anne Carroll. My Roads to Childhood. Updated edition. Boston, MA: The Horn Book, 1961.

Sayers, Frances Clarke. Anne Carroll Moore. NY: Atheneum, 1972.

Sicherman, Barbara, and Carol Hurd Green, eds. Notable American Women: The Modern Period. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.

Ellen Dennis French , freelance writer, Murrieta, California

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Moore, Anne Carroll (1871–1961)

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