Francis Jenkins Olcott

1872 - 1963

Author & Librarian


Frances Jenkins Olcott

Frances Jenkins Olcott founded the Training School at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and impacted the development of children's services in general.  She was born in 1972 in Paris, France.  In 1896 she graduate from Melvil Dewey's New York State Library School.  Directly out of library school, she got a job as an assistant librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library.  The following year she moved to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh where she was given the task of creating a children's department.  She opened the Library's Training School in 1900 and was director of the School and the Children's Department until 1911.  She emphasized in her practice that public libraries have an educational role to play in the lives of children.  She used the library and training school to test new ideas about innovative practice.  She would then publish her observations in the professional literature so that the whole country could benefit from her experiences.  The graduates of the training school also helped spread her ideas on best practice throughout the country.  In 1911, she retired from the library profession so that she could devote herself to her writing.  By the time of her death on March 29, 1963, she had written over 24 books for children along with a number of professional works.

Selected Works
  • Rational Library Work with Children, American Library Association, 1907
  • Good Stories for Great Birthdays, Houghton, 1922
  • Arabian Nights Entertainments, Holt, 1923
  • Wonder Tales from China Seas, Longmans, 1925
  • Wonder Tales from Goblin Hills, Longmans, 1930
  • Woolls, B. (1978). Olcott, Frances Jenkins. In B. S. Wynar (Ed.), Dictionary of American library biography (pp. 387-388). Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

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Last Modified: May 6, 2002