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Elizabeth Roth research papers on festivals, 1956-2006

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Roth (Elizabeth) Research Papers on Festivals

Biographical / Historical Note

Elizabeth E. Roth worked at the New York Public Library from 1944 until her retirement in 1981, serving as Keeper of Prints, Rare Books, and of the Spencer Collection.

Born and raised in Switzerland, Elizabeth E. Roth moved to the United States in May 1939. With the help of a Swiss professor at Brooklyn College, she attended the Institute of International Education and chose to pursue her studies at the University of Minnesota. There, she attended the University's School of Library Science and after three years graduated with honors.

Upon graduation, Roth was offered several positions and chose to work at the New York Public Library, starting in its Central Children's Room on Fifth and 42nd Street. In February 1947, she was offered a position as First Assistant in the Department of Prints, and became assistant to Karl Kup, who for three decades served as the NYPL's Keeper of Prints, of the Spencer Collection, and chief of the Art and Architecture Division. When Karl Kup retired from the NYPL in 1968, Roth took over his duties and was appointed Keeper of Prints in 1969. She also became keeper of the library's Spencer Collection, comprised of illustrated books, festival books, manuscripts, and fine bindings.

In 1969, Roth became a member of the Cosmopolitan Club. She was also a member of the Hroswitha Women Book Collectors Club in New York. Women book collectors, such as Mary Hyde, were members of this club before the Grolier Club changed its rules on the admittance of women as members.

After retiring in 1981, Roth divided her time between Zürich, Switzerland, and New York, where she was invited by Janet Byrne to pursue research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Print Room, and then in the Thomas J. Watson Library, Roth prepared an annotated bibliography of festival books, a subject suggested to her by Karl Kup. In this annotated bibliography, Roth investigated not only the Spencer Collection's rich holdings in festival books, but also those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pierpont Morgan Library, Paul Gourary's collection, Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (SKB), and the Zentralbibliothek, Zürich.

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