George Lincoln Burr

A. D. White hired George Lincoln Burr (1857-1938) as his personal librarian when he was only a sophomore at Cornell. Burr worked in that capacity and as White’s personal secretary, traveling across Europe, acquiring some of White’s most prized manuscripts and early imprints. He joined the University’s history faculty in 1889, and went on to become an eminent professor, and like White, a president of the American History Association. From the time of its opening until his death, Burr was the librarian of the President White Library. He assured that this library-within-a-library became what he pledged to make it at its opening: a “great living, growing historical workshop of the University.”

George Lincoln Burr caricature

In this caricature by Roland Herbert Bainton, Burr is shown in his natural element, perusing the volumes he had helped acquire for the University.

George Lincoln Burr portrait

In this 1921 portrait, Cornell professor Christian Midjo (1880-1973) shows Burr against a map of France, Burr’s area of historical expertise, and surrounded by books. Midjo was Norwegian, trained in Denmark, and a member of the Cornell faculty from 1909 through the 1930s.