- Joanne E. Passet
Marvin, Cornelia (26 December 1873–13 February 1957), librarian and social reformer, was born in Monticello, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Elwell Marvin and Cornelia Moody. Her father’s business failure and her mother’s tuberculosis led the family to relocate in Tacoma, Washington, where she completed her secondary education in 1891. In 1893, a year after her mother’s death, Marvin moved to Chicago and became a “mother’s helper” while she took extension courses through the University of Chicago. A motivated student, Marvin confided to her sister: “I am afraid I worship ‘culture’—and ‘knowledge’ combined as much as some do money.” Although she dreamed of becoming a literary critic or dramatist, Marvin, who “resolved to be a bachelor so I won’t have a family to rear,” felt obliged to assist her siblings while they attended college. By September 1894, Marvin had persuaded her father to provide the $500 she needed to attend the recently established Library School at the Armour Institute of Technology. She envisioned library school as a way to enter the work force quickly, earn money to help her siblings, and then pay for her own college education....