Monday, July 28, 2014

Gilbert H. Doane, Librarian and Monuments Man

The story of the World War II "Monuments Men", a special Army unit created to help recover art treasures looted my the Nazis, has become well known due to the George Clooney film this year. One of the monuments men was Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980), Librarian of the University of Wisconsin - Madison from 1937 to 1956. Doane took a leave of absence in 1943-1945 to serve in what was officially known as the Army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) program. Although I knew that Doane had served as Librarian of UW-Madison, I didn't know about the monuments men connection until I did some research as the result of a recently acquired airmail letter postal card  sent to Doane from Mexico in 1940 (see above). The letter was sent by a friend of Doane's with the initials D.P. The friend is an artist and the letter updates Doane on the friend's artistic activities including an upcoming show in San Francisco. Doane left the Army with the rank of Major. When he stepped down from his post as UW Librarian he was ordained as an Episcopal priest, and in 1957 he returned to UW as the University Archivist, a post he held until 1962. There is an excellent post about Doane on the UW Archives blog, and also a great post on the Bibliophemera blog.    

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