Giving Opportunities

Louise Seaman Bechtel Purchase Fund

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This fund was established in 1990 by the estate of Louise Seaman Bechtel to support the acquisition and preservation of library materials for the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature in the Department of Special Collections in the George A. Smathers Libraries.

Born in 1894, Louise Seaman Bechtel was a critic, author and teacher of young children. She was educated at the Collegiate Institute, Vassar and Yale. Bechtel was hired in 1919 by Macmillan Company to become the first editor of a separate department devoted to publishing children’s books. During her 15-year tenure as managing editor at the Macmillan Company from 1919-34, she shepherded the production of more than 600 new books, marking a milestone in the growth and development of American literature for children. Because of her success other publisher’s soon followed suit and children’s book publishing became a visible and profitable industry.

After leaving Macmillan in 1934, Bechtel worked as a freelance writer and lecturer. She was the editor of the children’s section of the New York Herald Tribune Book Review from 1948-56 and was associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, a journal on literature for children, from 1939-57.

In 1980, Ms. Bechtel donated portions of her papers, an extensive book collection, correspondence and memorabilia to Vassar College. She passed away in 1985.

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