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Finding Aid to the J. Periam Danton Papers, 1928-2002
BANC MSS C-B 1012  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: J. Periam Danton papers
    Date (inclusive): 1928-2002
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 1012
    Creators : Danton, J. Periam, 1908-2002
    Extent: Number of containers: 11 cartons, 1 box Linear feet: 14
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The J. Periam Danton Papers, 1928-2002, primarily consist of professional correspondence regarding organizational activities within the academic library and international librarianship professions. The collection has been divided into three series: Professional Activities; Writings; and Biographical materials. Correspondence with colleagues and publishers from throughout the United States and all over the world and with former doctoral students constitute a vast amount of the Professional Activities series. The Writings series includes notes, research materials, drafts and editorial correspondence for Danton's numerous publications regarding librarianship. Biographical materials are limited and include personal correspondence and newspaper clippings.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], J. Periam Danton Papers, BANC MSS C-B 1012, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    Oral history recordings, 1978-79, concerning Sydney Mitchell, Bancroft Phonotape 1411 C
    Dean and professor at UC Berkeley's School of Librarianship, 1946-1976: oral history transcript, BANC MSS 2001/91 c

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Danton, J. Periam, 1908-2002--Archives
    University of California, Berkeley. School of Librarianship
    Library science--United States
    International librarianship
    Library science--Study and teaching (Higher)
    Faculty papers

    Administrative Information


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lisa M. Monhoff in 2004.

    Biographical Information

    Joseph Periam Danton was born in Palo Alto, California at the Stanford University hospital on July 5, 1908. His parents were German language educators George Henry and Annina Periam Danton, who had both earned Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. In 1916, the Danton family moved to Peking, China to teach at Tsinghua University (now part of Peking University), where they stayed for nearly ten years. The family also visited Japan during their residence in Asia. Danton enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1924 to study German and spent the 1925-1926 school year studying in Leipzig, Germany where his parents had moved and held teaching positions. He graduated from Oberlin with a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in 1928. Danton then moved to New York City to ascertain what career path to follow.
    Danton's love of books led him to first contemplate applying himself in the world of book publishing. His parents had made several friends who were influential in the New York publishing realm. Upon further investigation and reflection, Danton came to the conclusion that, if he were to enter the publishing field, more time would be spent selling the books than actually reading them. Eventually, he took the advice of his mother to visit her friend Charles C. Williamson, dean of the esteemed School of Library Service at Columbia University, and consider the field of librarianship.
    The profession of librarianship, with its intellectual challenges and basis in public service, strongly appealed to Danton. In 1928, he entered the library school at Columbia University, graduating in 1929 with a Bachelor of Science degree in librarianship. While attending Columbia during the day, Danton spent his evenings assisting in the reading room of the New York Public Library.
    Upon receiving the Columbia degree, Danton accepted employment as a night shift reference librarian at Williams College in Massachusetts from 1929-1930. The lack of students utilizing the library in the evenings and a deficiency of nighttime activities in the small town allowed Danton plenty of time to engage in scholarly studies while on the job. In 1930, he received a Master of Arts degree in German from Williams College and was soon drafted by the American Library Association (ALA) to take a position at their headquarters in Chicago. Danton was hired as secretary to the executive secretary of the American Library Association, Carl Milam, 1930-1933. At this time, the field of librarianship was overwhelmingly female-oriented and Danton recalled that he was recruited for the position partly in an attempt to balance out the ratio. When he worked at the ALA office, there were only three male employees out of the sixty total employees.
    Concluding that he wished to pursue an academic career in the field of librarianship, Danton applied to the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago. He began the program in 1933 and received his Ph.D. (in philosophy) in 1935. Danton took a position as librarian and associate professor of bibliography at Colby College in Maine from 1935-1936. Then Danton was offered and accepted the same position at Temple University, in Philadelphia. In December 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and Danton enlisted in the Naval Reserve to help with the war effort. However, he wasn't called to duty until late 1942 and served as visiting professor at the University of Chicago's Graduate Library School in the summer of 1942. Danton served as a Navy intelligence officer 1942-1945 in the South Pacific, earning the rank of Commissioned Lieutenant.
    Upon his honorable discharge from the Army in the fall of 1945, Danton began exploring his career options beyond Temple University. As he was returning from the Pacific arena via San Francisco, Danton was contacted by Sydney B. Mitchell, the long-standing dean of the School of Librarianship at the University of California at Berkeley. Mitchell had been a neighbor of the Danton's when they had lived in Palo Alto and had remained friends with the family throughout the years. Mitchell wrote that he was retiring the following year and the school would be looking for a new dean. Danton had considered library education as a profession, but hadn't had much experience to this point. He interviewed and though it was a successful meeting, Berkeley wasn't prepared to make a decision right away.
    Danton returned to the East and accepted a visiting professorship at Columbia University's School of Library Service. Not long before the semester's close in late May 1946, Danton was offered a permanent faculty position at Columbia. A day after verbally accepting the position, Danton received a telegram from the University of California at Berkeley offering him the position of dean and associate professor at the School of Librarianship. Danton saw this role as an opportunity to make a significant difference in a relatively new professional field and at an institution with a growing progressive reputation. Danton became Dean and Associate Professor of the school in July 1946, and became a full professor the following year. He served as dean and professor until 1961, when he was forced to relinquish the deanship due to new term limits the university imposed. He then acted in the capacity of professor and library consultant until his retirement in 1976, whereupon he became Professor Emeritus.
    Upon retirement, Danton continued to publish and play a significant role in Berkeley's School of Librarianship. He also fought to keep the school open, (along with other troubled library schools - his alma maters at Columbia and Chicago), when budget cuts and a changing economy forced the school to re-evaluate its mission and become the School of Information Management and Systems in 1995. Though officially retired from teaching and administrative duties, Danton continued to write and publish some of his most substantial books through 1999.
    Danton was awarded several honors in his lifetime including the Presidential Unit Citation with two stars, for his role in the United States Naval Reserve during World War II, the Berkeley Citation in 1976, upon retirement from the University of California, and the Beta Phi Mu in 1983, the American Library Association's award for service to librarianship. He was extremely active in the literature of his profession, continuously writing in depth studies and serving on the editorial board of the Library Quarterly. Danton was often invited to speak at national and international library events and served on a variety of University of California committees. He was a member of many library professional associations such as the American Library Association, the International Federal of Library Associations and the Association of American Library Schools. Danton was also an honorary member of Vereinigung Osterreichischer Bibliothekare, an Austrian library association, and Vereinigung Deutscher Bibliothekare, a German library association.


    1908 Born July 5th in Palo Alto, California
    1916-1924 Spends youth in Beijing, China
    1928 B.A. in German, Oberlin College, Ohio
    1925-1926 Student in Leipzig, Germany
    1928-1929 Reading Room Assistant and Stacks Supervisor, New York Public Library
    1929 B.S. in Librarianship, Columbia University
    1929-1930 Reference Assistant, Williams College Library
    1930 M.A. in German, Williams College
    1930-1933 Assistant to the Secretary, American Library Association
    1935 Ph.D., University of Chicago
    1935-1936 Librarian and Associate Professor of Bibliography, Colby College
    1935-ca. 1945 Married to librarian Emily Miller
    1936-1946 Librarian and Associate Professor of Bibliography, Temple University
    1939 Director of the Rockefeller Foundation-American Library Association "Books for Europe" Program
    1942 Visiting professor, University of Chicago
    1942-1945 United States Naval Reserve, Commissioned Lieutenant
    1945-1946 Visiting professor, Columbia University
    1946-1961 Dean of the School of Librarianship, University of California, Berkeley
    1946-1947 Associate Professor of Librarianship, University of California, Berkeley
    1947-1976 Professor of Librarianship, University of California, Berkeley
    1948-ca. 1972 Married to Lois King of Lakewood, Ohio
    1949-1950 President of the Association of American Library Schools
    1960-1961 Fulbright Research Scholar in Göttingen, Germany
    1961 Consultant through Department of State's American Specialist Program to Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    1961-1964 Consultant in Library Service to the Veterans Administration Hospital libraries for the Western area
    1963 Ford Foundation consultant on South East Asian library development
      Director of Multi-Area Library Program project, sponsored by the Department of State and the International Relations Committee of the American Library Association
    1964-1965 Fulbright Research Scholar in Vienna, Austria
    1967-1969 Council on Library Resources grant
    1968 Ford Foundation [consultant on South East Asian library development survey, w/ Ray Swank]
    1976-2002 Professor Emeritus, School of Librarianship, University of California, Berkeley
    1983 Received Beta Phi Mu award from the American Library Association
    2002 Died November 12th in Oakland, California

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The J. Periam Danton Papers primarily consist of professional correspondence regarding organizational activities within the academic library and international librarianship professions. Danton was extremely active in professional organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA), International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Correspondence with colleagues and publishers from throughout the United States and all over the world and with former doctoral students constitute a vast amount of the "professional activities" series.
    Danton received several grants and fellowships over the course of his career from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Council on Library Resources, Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ford Foundation. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Germany and Austria. Many of the grant applications, acceptance letters and research that was achieved during the course of the grant process are included in the "professional activities" series. Danton's tenure included numerous invitations to guest lectureships around the world. Documentation is included for many of these visits, including such institutions as University of Puerto Rico, McGill University, Hebrew University, University of Belgrade, University of Zabreb and University of Ljubljana. Prominent American library schools where Danton lectured are also included, such as University of North Carolina, University of Texas and University of Washington.
    The collection includes correspondence relating to the University of California's 1949-1951 "loyalty oath" controversy. The university, compelled by the pressures of the era of McCarthyism, required professors to sign an oath of loyalty acknowledging allegiance to the state constitution and at the same time declaring no affiliation with the communist party. Correspondence between Danton and the President of the University of California, Robert Gordon Sproul, reflects Danton's dilemma with the loyalty oath requirement. An eloquently crafted response to the president's second request to sign the loyalty oath form is included in the University of California sub-series.
    Notable correspondents include: Maurice Tauber (Columbia), Jack Dalton (Columbia University School of Librarianship/ALA Director), L. Quincy Mumford (Librarian of Congress, 1954-1974), William R. Eshelman (Wilson Library Bulletin, Scarecrow Press & U. of Oregon?), Sir Frank Francis (Director of British Museum), Clark Kerr (UC Berkeley President), Robert Gordon Sproul (President, University of California) Wilfred Saunders (University of Sheffield), Eric Moon (Library Journal, etc.), Lester Asheim (ALA, Director of International Relations Division), Raynard Swank, Edward Seaga (Prime Minister, Jamaica; formerly Minister of Finance), Louis Round Wilson (ALA president, Dean of University of Chicago library school, U. of North Carolina librarian, founder U. of North Carolina Press), Louis Shores (Library School Dean at FSU and bibliographic...), Carl H. Milam (ALA/ Director of Library Services, Department of Public Information, United Nations), Jesse Shera, Ray E. Held, Carl M. White (Director of Libraries and Dean of the School of Library Service, Columbia University), Bernard Berelson (University of Chicago, Graduate Library School, dean), Norman Horrocks (Scarecrow Press)