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Collection Title: Roberts (Anna Margaret) Papers

Collection Number: M138

Dates: 1908-1960

Volume: 0.5 cu. ft.

Provenance: Transferred from Mississippiana, date unknown.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Anna Margaret Roberts was born on November 13, 1897, in Triune, Williamson County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Lytle Crockett and Margaret Jordon Roberts. She had one brother Lytle C. Roberts, Jr. She attended Bostick Academy Elementary School and when Anna was 10 the family moved to Nashville where she attended Hume-Fogg High School.

In 1920 Miss Roberts received her Bachelor of Arts degree in languages and in 1922 she earned Master of Arts degree in English both from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her professional training at the University of Illinois where she graduated with a degree in library science. Additional studies at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School added to her credentials.

Miss Roberts worked as librarian in the department of chemistry and geology and assistant librarian at George Peabody College while working on her master's degree. On September 8, 1926, she began work at Mississippi State Teachers College as the first professional librarian and professor of library science.

Single-handedly Miss Roberts ran the one room library, located in Science Hall (now Southern Hall) for 13 years. In 1939 she was responsible for the move to the Joe Cook Memorial Library (now Kennard-Washington Hall) present library, the Joseph Anderson Cook Memorial Library, was built in 1960, Miss Roberts worked with contractors and builders to plan the building using her more than 33 years of library experience.

Miss Roberts was credited with creating the Department of Library Science at State Teachers College and was its' first professor and head of the department. She developed the department from a one hour course to a 45 quarter hour department. She was instrumental in establishing a chapter of Delta Delta Delta, a national social sorority, on campus, and was also one of the organizers of Phi Delta Rho, the first women's honorary society.

On a professional level, Miss Roberts served as secretary-treasurer and president for the Mississippi Library Association, chairman of the Mississippi Library Commission, and member of council for the American Library Association and the Southeastern Library Association. Governor Hugh White appointed Miss Roberts as Mississippi's official delegate at the American Library Association meeting in 1938 while she was serving as president of the Mississippi Library

Association. She was also involved in the Citizens Library Movement, State Library Commission, and the Mississippi Education Association. Miss Roberts lobbied for state and federal legislation for libraries and the Librarian Certification Law. Miss Roberts also served as president of the Hattiesburg branch of the American Association of University Women.

On July 31, 1962, after 36 years as librarian at the University of Southern Mississippi, Anna M. Roberts retired. She is credited with building the college's library collections from 7,567 volumes in 1926 to over 122,732 volumes, including many rare books and an outstanding Mississippiana Collection, in 1962. She served under the administration of six presidents and saw the institution undergo three name changes. The Anna Margaret Roberts Hall, a dormitory on campus, was dedicated in her honor on November 1, 1968.

Miss Roberts was involved in the Trinity Episcopal Church and after her retirement began compiling a history. She served on the Community Concert Association Board, was president of the Hattiesburg branch of American Association of Retired Persons, and was a member of the John Rolfe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Anna M. Roberts died on October 22, 1978, from injuries suffered in a fall, she was 81 years old. Miss Roberts is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.

Scope and Content:

The majority of the Anna M. Roberts Papers consists of correspondence about Miss Roberts' involvement in the American Library Association and the Mississippi Library Association and details issues addressed from 1938-1959.

Some topics in the correspondence include library certification, federal aid for education, ethics, the Citizen's Library Movement, organizational programs and minutes, and needs for librarians and libraries. The correspondence reflects Miss Roberts many presidential, committee, and membership activities.

In addition to the American Library Association and Mississippi Library Association materials, the collection also includes correspondence, pamphlets, a history of the Library Science Department at the University and other miscellaneous materials related to Miss Roberts' work as librarian and as an educator. There are also items related to the University of Southern Mississippi including issues of the Student Printz, a 40 year history of the University, possibly written by R.C. Cook, former president of the University, and reprints of articles from the Hattiesburg American on the beginnings of Mississippi Normal College in 1908 and on the upheaval at the University during 1940.

This collection would be of interest to researchers seeking information on the history of the University of Southern Mississippi, especially the libraries and the library education program, the history of the Mississippi Library Association, the history and development of the Mississippi Library Commission, and the library profession in general. It provides insight into the role of women in the higher education environment and in professional associations.

Related Collections:

ANNA, the USM Libraries' online catalog, named for Miss Anna Roberts.

Felder (Virginia Isabelle) Papers, M 197

Fritzsche (Bertha Maude) Collection, M 289

Hickman (Alma) Papers (M 98)

Pulley (Mary Winton) Papers, M 92


Created by: Bobs M. Tusa
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Revised: December 8, 2004