In Memoriam: Marjorie G. Wynne, Pioneer and Role Model for Female Librarians

Marjorie G. Wynne, who spent 45 years as a rare books librarian at Yale, died on April 5 at her home at the Whitney Center in Hamden. She was 92 years old.

Known as “Miss Wynne” to librarians around the world and to generations of Yale students and faculty, she was a pioneer and role model for many female librarians during a time when men dominated rare book librarianship.

Born in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1917, she joined the staff of the Yale University Library’s Rare Book Room in 1942 after studying at Duke University and the School of Librarianship at the University of California-Berkeley. In 1963, she moved the rare book collections from Sterling Memorial Library to the newly opened Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and was named the Edwin J. Beinecke Research Librarian.

Wynne was one of the founders and the moving spirit behind the Rare Book and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer. At a 2007 meeting of RBMS in Los Angeles, it was announced that Yale had set up a scholarship in her name to enable an early-career librarian to attend the section conference each year.

Recently, Wynne also established a fellowship in her name at the Beinecke Library for a visiting scholar to visit and study the collections for a period each year.

She retired from the Beinecke Library in 1987. In retirement, she traveled widely, attending numerous conferences and specialist rare book tours, connecting with her many friends and writing about her experiences.

Wynne was also active in the International Association of Bibliophiles, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Grolier Club of New York and Yale’s Elizabethan Club.

A memorial reception celebrating Wynne’s life and career will be held in the Beinecke Library on Friday, Oct. 30, at 5:30 p.m.

Gifts in her memory can be made to the Marjorie G. Wynne Fellowship, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, P.O. Box 208240, New Haven, CT 06520-8240.

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