As a major proponent of the Library of Congress and UNESCO, Evans (1902-1981) played a pivotal role in expanding services. He served as the Director of Historical Records Survey in the Works Progress Administration; this program was characterized as “the greatest single achievement of any nation in describing and interpreting the records of its people” (Current Biography).
Evans joined the Library of Congress in 1939 as head of the Legislative Reference Service, and later served as Chief Assistant Librarian of Congress. He was appointed Librarian of Congress by President Truman in 1945 and held the position until 1953. Strongly opposed to the censorship of library holdings, he worked to expand the services of the Library of Congress. Evans felt that the Library of Congress was “a great factory on the frontier of knowledge” (Current Biography). He saw the Library of Congress as a reference center, not a reading room, and worked on increasing interlibrary loans. He also helped draft the Universal Copyright Convention at Geneva in 1952.
Evans played a crucial role of assistance in the forming of UNESCO. In 1953 he accepted as position as the third Director General of UNESCO. His library background and political science education and teaching experience led to a lifetime of international policy work. His last position before retirement in 1971 was as the director of international collections at Columbia University Library.
Library of Congress: Librarian (1945-1952)
ADI/ASIS&T: President (1950-1952)
UNESCO: Director-General (1953-1958)
Luther Evans Papers:
Columbia University Libraries, New York, NY (ca. 25,000 items, correspondence, writings, reports, and related printed material documenting Evans’ activities in law, international relations, and library service (1952-1970). Extensive files on Federal Library Survey Project, UNESCO)
Columbia University, Rare Books and Manuscripts (23 linear feet (ca. 27,000 items in 55 boxes), correspondence, manuscripts, reports, and printed materials (1952-1970)
Columbia University, Oral History Project (2 interviews, first is from 1965 and has 844-page transcript in addition to the reel, covers early life through end of career; second interview is from 1970 and has 34-page transcript, covers career from early 1930s through 1960s)
Stanford University, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, CA (1 folder (1949), relates to meetings of the U.S. delegation to the Third Session of the UNESCO General Conference, 1948)
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Washington, D.C. (No details available on this collection; papers may be closed)