Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Looking for information on Josephus Nelson Larned

Wherein aka J.N. Larned

Larned, Josephus Nelson, 1836-1913

A few years back I took a box of old books my mom was getting rid of. Many were probably from her father. One set I've just started looking through is J.N. Larned's History of the World; Or Seventy centuries of the life of mankind. It's five volumes covering prehistorical times through the beginning of the twentieth century. Published in 1914, a year after his death.

Here's a list of his published works:
  • Report On The State Of Trade Between The US & British..America [n|1871]
  • Talks About Labor And..The Laborers And The Capitalists [e|1876]
  • History For Ready Reference (w Alan C REILEY) [n|1894]
  • The Literature Of American History (ed) [e|1902]
  • An Historical Sketch Of The Buffalo Library [n|1902]
  • A Primer Of Right And Wrong, For Young People.. [n|1902]
  • A History Of The United States For Secondary Schools [n|1903]
  • Seventy Centuries Of The Life Of Mankind [n|1905]
  • Books, Culture And Character [n|1906]
  • The Rise And Fall Of Nations.. [n|1907]
  • A Study Of Greatness In Men [n|1911]
  • The Life And Work Of William Pryor Letchworth [b|1912]
  • William Pryor Letchworth [b|1913]
  • Selected Papers And Addresses [e|1915]
  • Larned's History Of The World [n|1915]
  • The New Larned History For Ready Reference, Reading And Research [n|c1928]

Despite this impressive list of books, this apparent textbook author and librarian (quote A building committee, which included the distinguished librarian, Josephus Nelson Larned (1836-1913), convened early in 1884) has faded away. Or least resisted any efforts to be exhumed on the internet.

Maybe he was Canadian? See George Iles and J. N. Larned in Montreal, Canada.

This paper mentions him being an American Library Association president. Searching the ALA helps a little:
How then did the various practices that make up self-censorship originally enter professional librarianship? Historically, "the concept of social control, if not paramount, was a significant component of library selection and service policy" (Geller 1976, 1255). Josephus Larned, a prominent librarian in the late 1800s, advocated that his colleagues use the excuse of limited budget as a means of avoiding the appearance of self-censorship, and the 1881 selection policy for the Boston Public Library contained the statement that "no public library should furnish books to young readers, or to those of any age, which will influence their passions or pervert their moral sense" (Geller 1976, 1257).

But that's all I could find on the ALA website about one of their former presidents.

The Oxford Journals article The American Library Association and the International Conference of 1897 might have some information, but can only be viewed by membership or fee.

Another article, Reading Between Librarians' Lines would seem to offer a hint, but it also is unavailable. The Google link offers the tantalizing nugget: In an address given in 1895 by then ALA president. Joseph Nelson Larned before an annual gathering of

That's about all I can find. I'll try to scan the title page and do occasional quotes from the books.


Blogger Johney Larned said...

Josephus Nelson Larned was a writer, journalist, librarian, and a personal friend and co-worker of Mark Twain. He was born May 11, 1836 and married Frances McCrea on April 29, 1861. Together they had seven children. J.N. Larned died on Aug. 15, 1913.

Being a distant relative, I have a few of his books as well as an old autographed letter. Google book search has an excellent biography on him at this link:,M1

12/30/2006 09:06:00 PM  

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