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University of Michigan School of Information


Martha Boaz

A headshot of Martha Boaz

Martha Boaz (1911–1995) received her master's degree in library science in 1950 and her PhD in library science in 1955, both from the University of Michigan. She was the first woman and the third person to earn a PhD in library science from the University of Michigan.

She earned a B.S. in Library Science in 1937 from George Peabody College. She was the assistant librarian at Carrier Library, then known as Madison Memorial Library, from 1940 to 1949. The library was at James Madison University, then known as Madison College, and today the Carrier Library reference room is named in her honor.

She was the dean of the University of Southern California School of Library Science from 1955-1978, its longest-serving dean, and some of her records are held at the University Archives of the University of Southern California. She also served as president of the California Library Association from 1962-1963, chair of its Research Committee from 1958-1960, chair of its Intellectual Freedom Committee from 1964-1966, president of its Library Education Division from 1968-1969, on its board of directors in 1972 and as its chair of the Council of Deans from 1977-1978.

Boaz’s greatest impact was in the areas of curriculum and program development, the use of library technology, advocacy for worldwide access to information and intellectual freedom. In 1970, she created a 36-part television series, “Living Library,” a one-credit course that provided an introduction to the library field and allowed anyone interested in the profession to study from home.