Elizabeth Nesbitt

1897 - 1977

Educator, Librarian, & Storyteller


Elizabeth Nesbitt
Elizabeth Nesbitt was known internationally as an authority on children's literature and as a storyteller. She was born on April 15, 1897, in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.  She taught at a private school for one year in 1919 before entering the library profession.  Her library career began when she became an assistant at the Central Boys and Girls Division of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  While working in this position, she also took classes at the Carnegie Library School.  In 1922, she received her certificate from the school and became a children's librarian at one of the branches.  Over the next few years she held a number of librarian positions in and around Pittsburgh.  Then in 1929, she returned to the Carnegie Library School, this time as an instructor. She was able to continue taking classes while teaching and earned her B.S. in library science in 1931.  Four years later, she earned a M.A. in English at the University of Pittsburgh.  In 1948 she was named associate dean of the Carnegie Library School, a position she held until her retirement in 1962.  She was also very active in the American Library Association: she was the chair of the Newbery-Caldecott Committee in 1958 and served on the ALA Executive Board two years later.

  • One of Pittsburgh's "Ten Women of Talent," 1955
  • Named Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, Governor of Pennsylvania, 1958
  • Received Pennsylvania Library Association's Distinguished Service Award, 1962
  • Received Clarence Day Award, American Library Association, 1965
Selected Works
  • Co-author of A Critical History of Children's Literature, Macmillan, 1969
  • Howard Pyle, Bodley Head, 1966
  • Hodges, M. (1990). Nesbitt, Elizabeth. In W. A. Wiegand (Ed.), Supplement to the dictionary of American library biography (pp. 91-94). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

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Last Modified: May 6, 2002