Previous Librarians of Congress

  • Biography
    Luther Evans (1902-1981) 10th Librarian of Congress 1945-1953 Luther Harris Evans, the tenth Librarian of Congress (1945-53) and the third director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was born on his grandmother’s farm near Sayerville, Bastrop County, Texas, the son of George Washington Evans, a railroad foreman, and Lillie Johnson. Evans worked on his […]
    • Date: 1902
  • Biography
    Herbert Putnam (1861-1955) 8th Librarian of Congress 1899-1939 George Herbert Putnam, Librarian of the Minneapolis Athenaeum (1884-87), the Minneapolis Public Library (1887-91), and the Boston Public Library (1895-99) and Librarian of Congress (1899-1939) was a leading figure of the American library movement. He was the first experienced librarian to hold the post of Librarian of Congress. His major […]
    • Date: 1861
  • Biography
    John Silva Meehan (1790-1863) 4th Librarian of Congress 1829-1861
    • Date: 1790
  • Biography
    Lawrence Quincy Mumford (1903-1982) 11th Librarian of Congress 1954-1974 L. Quincy Mumford, Librarian of Congress from 1954-1974, was born on a farm near Ayden in Pitt County, North Carolina, the son of Jacob Edward Mumford and Emma Luvenia Stocks. Quincy Mumford worked on the family tobacco farm while attending grammar and high school. He attended Duke University, receiving his […]
    • Date: 1903
  • Biography
    Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1825-1908) 6th Librarian of Congress 1864-1897 The modern history of the Library of Congress began when Ainsworth Rand Spofford became Librarian of Congress, for it was Spofford who transformed the small reference library that served the U.S. Congress into a national institution that also served the American public. Spofford permanently joined the legislative and national functions […]
    • Date: 1825
  • Biography
    John G. Stephenson (1828-1883) 5th Librarian of Congress 1861-1864 John Gould Stephenson served as the fifth Librarian of Congress from May 21, 1861, until his resignation, which was effective December 31, 1864. A political appointee of President Abraham Lincoln, Stephenson was a physician and Republican partisan from Terre Haute, Indiana. As Librarian of Congress, Stephenson apparently spent as much […]
    • Date: 1828
  • Biography
    Patrick Magruder (1768-1819) 2nd Librarian of Congress 1807-1815 Patrick Magruder, a Maryland lawyer and politician, was the second Librarian of Congress, serving from 1807 until 1815. Like his predecessor John Beckley, he served concurrently as Clerk of the House of Representatives and as Librarian of Congress. He resigned from his post in 1815 after an investigation of the […]
    • Date: 1768
  • Biography
    James H. Billington (1929-) 13th Librarian of Congress 1987-2015 James Hadley Billington was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress on September 14, 1987. He is the 13th person to hold the position since the Library was established in 1800. Billington was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and his appointment was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate. During his […]
    • Date: 1929
  • Biography
    Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) 9th Librarian of Congress 1939-1944 Writer and poet Archibald MacLeish was the first well-known figure from outside the library profession to be nominated and confirmed as Librarian of Congress. His achievements at the Library of Congress between 1939 and 1944 were many; he also was an eloquent spokesman on behalf of libraries and librarianship. His […]
    • Date: 1892
  • Biography
    George Watterston (1783-1854) 3rd Librarian of Congress 1815-1829 George Watterston served as Librarian of Congress from March 21, 1815 until May 28, 1829. Appointed by President James Madison, he was the first Librarian who did not also serve simultaneously as Clerk of the House of Representatives; thus, even though he followed John Beckley and Patrick Magruder in the […]
    • Date: 1783
  • Biography
    John Russell Young (1840-1899) 7th Librarian of Congress 1897-1899 Journalist John Russell Young, the seventh Librarian of Congress, did not serve long in the office: from his confirmation by the Senate on July 1, 1897 until his death on January 17, 1899. In this short period, he conscientiously undertook the formidable tasks of overseeing the move of the Library […]
    • Date: 1840
  • Biography
    John James Beckley (1757-1807) 1st Librarian of Congress 1802-1807 John Beckley was the first Librarian of Congress, albeit a part-time one. When the position of Librarian was established on January 26, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson asked his friend and political ally John Beckley—who also was serving as the Clerk of the House of Representatives—to fill the post. Beckley served […]
    • Date: 1757
  • Biography
    Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) 12th Librarian of Congress 1975-1987 Daniel J. Boorstin, the twelfth Librarian of Congress, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on October 1, 1914. He was one of the two sons of Samuel Aaron Boorstin, a lawyer, and of Dora (Olsan) Boorstin. His grandparents on both sides of his family were Russian-Jewish immigrants. He grew up and […]
    • Date: 1914