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John E. Alden papers

Identifier: MC-368

Scope and Contents

The John E. Alden papers are comprised of Alden's professional and personal correspondence during his long career as a bibliographer. The papers also include book reviews and published bibliographical notes written by Alden, newspaper clippings and articles, papers relating the the Boston Public Library where Alden worked as bibliographer and then keeper of rare books from 1961-1976, Alden's 1935 diploma from Williams, United States passports, and biographical details including Alden's curriculum vitae. The papers date from 1935-1991 with some undated material.


  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1991

Conditions Governing Access

The John E. Alden papers is open for research. Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections staff prior to a visit.

Conditions Governing Use

In consultation with Special Collections staff, reproductions may be made upon request. Material in this collection may be subject to copyright.

Biographical / Historical

John Eliot Alden was born in Brockton, Mass. on February 12, 1914. He graduated from Williams in 1935. He went on to receive his MA in 1938 and Library Science degree in 1940 at Brown University and the University of Michigan, respectively. He became a renouned bibliographer. He had a lifelong friendship with Thomas Randolph Adams, Custodian of the Chapin Library from 1955-57 and later Librarian at The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. In 1954, Alden became the bibliographer at the Boston Public Library and later the Keeper of Rare Books in 1962-1976. In 1976, Alden went on to the John Carter Brown Library as the bibliographer until his retirement. In 1989, Alden appointed Adams as his power of attorney. Alden passed away on October 23, 1991.


.209 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box letter)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Library Shelving Facility.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Virginia H. Adams and Jody Adams on behalf of their mother, Virginia M. Adams' estate, 2022.

Separated Materials

Thomas Randalph Adams papers were donated in conjunction with the John E. Alden papers. Adams' papers were separated out as their own collection, the Thomas Randalph Adams papers (MC367).

A Class of 1935 Gulielmensian published by the Class of 1936 was separated and added to the archives' duplicate materials.

Alden’s master’s thesis at Brown University, “Aspects of the Peasant Novel Since the World War” dated 1938 was cataloged separately in the 68's collection of alumni publications.
John E. Alden papers
Zepka, Laura
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Williams College Archives & Special Collections Repository

Sawyer Library
26 Hopkins Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267