Mary Wright Plummer

1856 - 1916

Librarian, Author, & Leader


Mary Wright
Mary Wright Plummer was born to a Quaker family in Richmond, Indiana in 1856. She graduated from the first class of the first library school, the Library School of Columbia College, in 1888. She was a cataloguer at the St. Louis Public Library, then later moved to the Pratt Institute, where she created the second program in library studies. She spent nine years as the director of that library, and is credited as being the to create a separate room entirely for the children's collection. She is also credited with originating the idea of having special training for children's librarians. Upon retiring as director of the Pratt Institute Free Library, she moved to the New York Public Library and founded another library training program. Over the course of her career, wrote several children's books, authored articles in librarianship, published essays in literary magazines, and she held various positions in the American Library Association. She was to become the president of the ALA in 1915 when she fell ill. The next year on September 21, she died of cancer at the age of sixty.

Photograph from Formative Beginnings 1895 - 1905
Selected Works
  • Plummer, Mary Wright. (1897). "The Work for Children in Free Libraries." Library Journal. 679.
  • Plummer, Mary Wright. (1907). Roy and Ray in Mexico. (children's book)
  • Plummer, Mary Wright. (1894). Hints to Small Libraries.
  • Holbrook, Barbara. (1939). Mary Wright Plummer. Wilson Library Bulletin. Vol. 13: 409.
  • Maack, Mary Niles. (2000) No Philosophy Carries so Much Conviction as the Personal Life: Mary Wright Plummer as an Independent Woman. Library Quarterly Vol. 70: 1-46.

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Last Modified: May 5, 2002