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Ruth Garver Gagliardo papers

Call Number: RH MS 275


The Ruth Garver Gagliardo papers, dating from 1914-1978, contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed materials, and photographs, which mainly document her professional career as a journalist and reviewer of and authority on children's books.


  • Creation: 1914 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Ruth Garver Gagliardo

Ruth Jane Garver Gagliardo was born on September 6, 1895, in Hastings, Nebraska. In 1910 she moved with her family to Topeka, Kansas, and remained a resident of Kansas until her death on January 4, 1980. She graduated from Topeka High School in 1914, having served as Editor-in-Chief of her senior yearbook. After a year of normal (teacher) training in Topeka, she taught for several years in rural Kansas schools.

In 1918, Gagliardo entered the University of Kansas and was awarded the A.B. degree in English with a journalism emphasis in 1922. Upon graduation, she went to work for the Emporia Gazette. Her duties consisted of being William Allen White's personal secretary for 2-3 hours per day, and reporting and writing for the newspaper. She wrote a regular feature, "The Highbrow Column," devoted largely to books and cultural events. Occasionally she would devote an entire column to reviewing children's books; this was the first newspaper in the United States to review children's books. Mrs. Gagliardo had been interested in children's literature and had collected children's books since she was a young girl.

In 1924, Gagliardo moved to Lawrence to devote her time to freelance writing. She was married on Christmas day 1925 to Domenico Gagliardo, a member of the K.U. Economics Department, and they adopted three children during the Depression and prior to World War Ii. During this period of time, Gagliardo devoted her energy to her family and the local community.

Beginning around 1942, Gagliardo launched a career which rapidly brought her to national attention as an authority on children's literature. Her career was grounded in two firsts: 1) She was the author of "A Children's Bookshelf" in The Kansas Teacher (1942-1966)--the first magazine to feature a regular review article on children's literature; and 2) She was the creator of the Kansas Children's Traveling Book Exhibit, which came to be known as the Kansas Plan (many other states using it as a model) and which is credited as being the beginning of book fairs in the United States. Both of these innovations were through the auspices of the Kansas State Teachers Association.

Gagliardo contributed articles to such magazines as McCall's, Parents Magazine, the National Education Association Journal, National Parent-Teacher, Christian Science Monitor, and more. She also authored a volume entitled Let's Read Aloud, an anthology of children's literature (1962). Mrs. Gagliardo participated in such special projects as the founding of the William Allen White Book Award (the first book award given to winners chosen by the young readers themselves), the organizing of a reading and library program for the Boy's State Industrial School in Topeka, Kansas (1948), and serving as the Kansas representative to the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1950 and in 1960.

Gagliardo's professional activities included such positions as Director of Library Services, Kansas State Teachers Association (1944-1966); National Chair, Reading and Library Service, P.T.A.; National Vice-President, P.T.A.; Chair, Joint Committee of the National Education Association and National P.T.A.; Chair, Joint Committee of the National Education Association and American Library Association; and fifteen years service to the Kansas P.T.A. in such positions as State Chair, Vice President, and Member-at-Large.


2.25 Linear Feet (3 document cases + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Ruth Garver Gagliardo papers date from 1914-1980 and contain correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed materials, and photographs, which mainly document her professional career.

The materials in Box 1 are arranged alphabetically and include family information and papers on her professional activities. Essentially, this is the arrangement Mrs. Gagliardo imposed on her papers before donating them to the Kansas Collection; some materials bear her annotations.

Box 2 is arranged alphabetically by title of printed materials. Although there are some materials pertaining to special events in the lives of her family, the bulk of the collection focuses on Mrs. Gagliardo's professional career with both national and state education organizations. She is especially known for her work as Director of Library Services, Kansas State Teachers Association, from 1942 to her retirement in 1966.

Also included in box 2 are materials relating to the life of Alberta Linton Corbin, Professor of German and Dean of Women at K.U. These papers are arranged chronologically. The first women's dormitory at K.U, built in 1923, bears Miss Corbin's name. With the materials are two speeches by Miss Corbin on suffrage work in Kansas; one 1930 speech is in honor of Lucy B. Johnston. Miss Corbin and the Gagliardo family lived together in Lawrence for many years.

Of special interest is Mrs. Gagliardo's early work association with William Allen White and her friendship with his family. There are four speeches (folder 11, Box 1) which Mrs. Gagliardo delivered on her association with Mr. White. Moreover, Mrs. Gagliardo was the creator of the William Allen White Book Award (1952 to present).

Photographs have been physically separated from textual materials and are located at RH MS-P 275. These include images of Ruth Gagliardo and family members, awards ceremonies, and some images of Alberta Corbin.

Physical Location

RH MS 275

Physical Location

RH MS-P 275

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Ruth Garver Gagliardo, 1978.

Guide to the Ruth Garver Gagliardo Collection
Ruth Garver Gagliardo papers
Finding aid prepared by D. Graves, March 1981. Finding aid encoded by amh, 2004. Finding aid revised by mrk, 2010; mwh, 2019; cmp, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Ruth Garver Gagliardo papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 275, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States