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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Biographical Narrative
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material
  • Related Oral Histories
  • Online Items Available

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Lawrence Clark Powell papers
    Creator: Powell, Lawrence Clark
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.0229
    Physical Description: 105.5 Linear Feet (211 boxes and 22 oversize boxes.)
    Physical Description: 4 Audiovisual Carriers (4 audiocassettes)
    Date (inclusive): 1914-2001
    Abstract: Lawrence Clark Powell (1906-2001) joined the UCLA Library staff in 1938, became a UCLA Librarian (1944-61), director of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (1944-66), and the first Dean of the UCLA School of Library Service (1960). A prolific author, Powell's writings include books and articles on a variety of topics including literature, librarianship, the book trade, California history, and travel. The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, galley proofs, photographs, tape recordings, books, and printed materials by and about Lawrence Clark Powell.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research with the exception of boxes 137-227 which are restricted until 25 years following the death of Lawrence Clark Powell. These materials will be open for research beginning March 14, 2026. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: This collection contains both processed and unprocessed audiovisual materials. Audiovisual materials are not currently available for access, unless otherwise noted in a Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note at the series and file levels. All requests to access processed digital materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Lawrence Clark Powell, 1965- .

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 9927229433606533 

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Lawrence Clark Powell papers (Collection 229). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Dellene Moreland.
    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    We are committed to providing ethical, inclusive, and anti-racist description of the materials we steward, and to remediating existing description of our materials that contains language that may be offensive or cause harm. We invite you to submit feedback about how our collections are described, and how they could be described more accurately, by filling out the form located on our website: Report Potentially Offensive Description in Library Special Collections. 


    Powell was born September 3, 1906 in Washington, D.C.; his family moved to South Pasadena, California, 1910; BA, Occidental College, 1928; Ph.D., University of Dijon, France, 1932; worked at Jake Zeitlin's bookstore in Los Angeles, mid-1930s; graduated from library school, University of California at Berkeley, 1937; worked briefly at the Los Angeles Public Library; joined the UCLA Library staff in 1938; UCLA Librarian, 1944-61, and director of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1944-66; became the first Dean, UCLA School of Library Service, 1960; when he retired from UCLA in 1966, the campus's main library was named in his honor; a prolific author, Powell's writings include books and articles on a variety of topics including literature, librarianship, the book trade, California history, and travel; professor-in-residence at the University of Arizona from 1971; awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the American Library Association, 1981. Powell died in 2001.

    Biographical Narrative

    Lawrence Clark Powell was born in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 1906. His parents, G. Harold and Gertrude (Clark) Powell, soon moved to Southern California, where Lawrence grew up. His early schooling was in South Pasadena, and he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor's degree in English in 1928. Moving to France for his graduate studies, Lawrence Powell earned a Ph.D. at the University of Dijon in 1932, for work on Robinson Jeffers and his poetry. Soon after his return to the United States, Dr. Powell married Fay Ellen Shoemaker; they have two sons.
    Although Lawrence Clark Powell knew that his main interest was in books, he had not yet discovered librarianship, and for several years he worked with booksellers in Los Angeles. During this period he helped Ward Ritchie and Jake Zeitlin, who had begun the Ward Ritchie and the Primavera Presses, to publish western books. Then he decided to go to the UC School of Librarianship at Berkeley, where in 1937 he received the certificate of librarianship.
    Lawrence Clark Powell's first position after graduation was with the Los Angeles Public Library; he soon (1938) joined the UCLA library, however, with which he has been associated since. In 1944 Lawrence Clark Powell was appointed Director of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and in the same year he became Head Librarian of the UCLA Library. The Clark Library, specializing in books on English civilization of the 17th and early 18th centuries, grew from 16,000 volumes in 1934 to over 65,000 today, and the UCLA library as a whole went from 480,000 to 1,570,000 volumes during the period that Dr. Powell was at its head.
    Due to Lawrence Clark Powell's efforts, in 1946 the library organized a department of Special Collections to house rare and valuable material. Dr. Powell's frequent book-hunting trips, such as the year spent in England (1951) in conjunction with a Guggenheim Fellowship, have enriched this department. As a result of Dr. Powell's activities UCLA obtained the noted Sadleir Collection of 19th-Century Fiction, as well as other important collections. Another project dear to the heart of UCLA's head librarian was the establishment of a School of Library Service on the UCLA campus. The school came into being in the fall of 1960, with Lawrence Clark Powell as its first dean. In June, 1961, Dr. Powell relinquished the title of University Librarian to Robert Vosper, continuing as Dean of the Library School and as Director of the Clark Library.
    Lawrence Clark Powell is a vigorous proponent of a philosophy of librarianship stressing thorough knowledge of books and desire to serve the needs of the public rather than technological developments, or as he has called them, mechanical house-keeping techniques..
    Using various means for diffusing his ideas on books and libraries, Lawrence Clark Powell has become known as an educator, a lecturer, and an author. In 1954 he spent a year as visiting professor of library science at Columbia University, and from 1955 to 1960 as Lecturer in English he taught a course called Libraries and Learning (English 195), at UCLA. 1960, of course, saw Dr. Powell as Dean of the new UCLA Library School.
    Only a brief indication can be given here of the extent of Dr. Powell's speaking and writing. Among a number of distinguished speaking engagements can be noted the Randolph G. Adams Memorial Lectureship at the University of Michigan (1953), the library lectureship at the University of Tennessee (1954), and the annual lecture given at the meeting of the Library Association of Great Britain (at Harrogate, 1957). Dr. Powell has been heard in many radio broadcasts, including the Books I Like series he gave on KFAC (Los Angeles) in 1935.
    A prolific author, Lawrence Clark Powell has written over 300 items: books, magazine articles, essays, book reviews, forewords and introductions to books, bibliographies, etc. He has made a significant contribution to the literature of the library profession, but he also writes for the book-minded public. His interests are reflected in the subjects that recur throughout his writings; these are history and travel, especially concerning the American Southwest, rare books, libraries and librarianship, the book trade, and book collecting.
    As a measure of his involvement with the community, a few of the many organizations to which Lawrence Clark Powell has belonged can be cited. Dr. Powell has been a member of the American Library Association and many other such associations, president of the California Library Association in 1950, and president of the Bibliographical Society of America in 1954-55; he is a Phi Gamma Delta member, and belongs to the Zamorano Club (Los Angeles).
    Dr. Powell has been recognized by Occidental College with the award of an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (1955) and by the Carnegie Institute of Technology with the honorary title of Doctor of Humane Letters (1961). Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, awarded him this same degree in 1963.
    The Lawrence Clark Powell Papers were given to the UCLA Department of Special Collections as a continuing gift of Dr. Powell, in 1950. The collection is a growing one, as new material is added from time to time. The collection consists of manuscripts with holograph corrections, copies of Lawrence Clark Powell's publications, bibliographies and reviews of his works, tape recordings of speeches, correspondence, records of classes he has taught and organizations to which he has belonged, articles about Dr. Powell, and personal memorabilia and juvenilia.
    Additional information and papers of Lawrence Clark Powell can be found in the Powell Family Papers, Collection Number 230; in the Records of the Office of the Librarian, B18, Series 9; and in other entries under Powell, Lawrence Clark, in the Numbered Collections Catalogue.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, galley proofs, photographs, tape recordings, books, and printed materials by and about former UCLA Librarian Lawrence Clark Powell. Includes materials related to classes taught by Powell at the UCLA School of Library Service. Also includes materials and correspondence related to various literary figures, bibliophiles, and organizations such as Henry Miller, Dawson's Bookshop, Jake Zeitlin, and the Zamorano Club. Manuscripts for several of Powell's publications are in the collection as well.

    Related Material

    Powell Family Papers (Collection 230)  . Available at UCLA Library Special Collections.

    Related Oral Histories

    The following oral histories are available through the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research:
    • Looking Back at Sixty [oral history transcript] / Lawrence Clark Powell, interviewee. UCLA Oral History Department interview, 1973. Available at UCLA Library Special Collections.
    • The UCLA Library School [oral history transcript] / Lawrence Clark Powell and Andrew H. Horn, interviewees. UCLA Oral History Department interview, 1962. Available at UCLA Library Special Collections.
    • Interview of Lawrence Clark Powell (1973)  

    Online Items Available

    Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: Lawrence Clark Powell Papers (5 items) .

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Manuscripts for publication
    Historians -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Authors -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Librarians -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Powell, Lawrence Clark -- Archives
    University of California, Los Angeles. School of Library Service--Faculty -- Archives