Librarian of Congress Lawrence Mumford of Pitt County

L. Quincy Mumford (left) views an exhibit on the printing of the Constitution with Archivist of the United States James B. Rhoads. Image from the National Archives.

On April 22, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Lawrence Quincy Mumford for the post of Librarian of Congress. Mumford was the eleventh person to hold the office and the first trained as a professional librarian.

Born near Ayden in Pitt County in December 1903, Mumford began his education in a one-room school house and continued at Duke, where received an M.A. in English in 1928. He earned a B.S. in library science from Columbia the following year.

He worked first at the New York Public Library, where he also did work for the Library of Congress, before moving to the Cleveland Public Library, where he became director in 1950.

Confirmed by the Senate in July 1954, Mumford began his tenure at the Library of Congress under a dark cloud for the institution and its leadership. At his confirmation hearings, Congress expressed dissatisfaction with the library’s increasing public service role as a national library beyond its original mission as Congress’s legislative library.

Despite this and other tensions, Mumford’s 20 years at the Library saw extraordinary growth in its appropriations, completion of the Madison Building, adoption of the first computer-readable format for library catalog records and continued expansion of the its national role.

Mumford retired from the Library in December 1974 and died in Washington, D.C. in August 1982.

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