Virginia Haviland

1911 - 1988

Author, Critic, & Librarian


Virginia Havilan
Born on May 21, 1911, in Rochester New York, Virginia Haviland is probably best known for her folk tale anthologies.  In 1933, she graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in economics and math.  She began working in the Boston Public Library in 1934 as the Probationary Assistant in the Office of the Supervisor of Branch Libraries.  She then served as a children's librarian for the Philipps Brook Branch Library starting in 1941.   Seven years later she was promoted to branch manager.  From 1963 to 1981 she served as head of the Children's Book Section in the Library of Congress.  She worked in variety of positions in libraries for over forty-seven years, and yet, she never obtained a degree in library science.  Her enthusiasm for quality children's books lead her to serve as a reviewer for a number professional journals for nearly three decades.  In 1949, she was asked to give the second lecture in the Caroline M. Hewins lecture series.  Her participation in this lecture series marked the beginning of her interest in children's literature as a scholarly pursuit.  She even served as chair of the Newbery-Caldecott Award Committee in 1953-1954.

Photograph from Something About the Author (Commire, 1974, p. 106).

Selected Works
  • Travelogue Storybook of the Nineteenth Century, Horn Book, 1950
  • William Penn, Founder and Friend, Abingdon, 1952
  • The "Favorite Fairy Tales" series that began with Favorite Fairy Tales Told in England, 1959
  • Ruth Sawyer, Walck, 1965
  • (Compiler)The Wide World of Children's Books, Library of Congress, 1972
  • Children's Books of International Interest, 1972
  • A Fairy Tale Treasury, Coward, 1972
  • Commire, A. (1974). Haviland, Virginia. In Commire, A. (Ed.), Something about the author (Vol. 6, pp.105-107). Detroit, MI: Gale Research.
  • Smith, K. P. (1996, Spring). Initiative and influence: The contributions of Virginia Haviland to children's services, research, and writing. Library Trends, 44 (4), 736-753.

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Last Modified: May 5, 2002