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Guide to the Atwood Townsend Papers MC 64

New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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New York University Archives

Collection processed by Marissa De Simone

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 22, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Jennifer E. Neal for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description  , January 2019

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Townsend, Atwood H. (Atwood Halsey) , 1896-1967
Title: Atwood Townsend Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1941-1943
Abstract: In 1941, New York University Professor Atwood H. Townsend surveyed a number of prominent writers, economists, historians, journalists, and commentators on what they believed to be essential reading materials. With the feedback he received, Townsend compiled "Good Reading: A Guide for Serious Readers" as a suggested guideline of important titles for readers among a diversity of fields. The University Archives holds a number of returned questionnaires as well as Townsend's correspondence with participants.
Quantity: 0.05 Linear Feet in one half manuscript box
Language: Materials primarily in English.
Call Phrase: MC 64

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Biographical Note

Atwood Townsend was born in Moorestown, New Jersey, in 1897. He received his education from Boys High School in Brooklyn and his degree from New York University. He contributed significantly to the field of educational research and accepted a position as Professor of English at the New York University School of Engineering in 1918. Dr. Townsend chaired a committee on college reading for the National Council of Teachers of English in 1933. For the council, he created a list of the top 100 most significant books for college readers, polling professors and other academics to compile a substantial guideline for students. In 1943 Dr. Townsend acted as executive secretary for the third Free World Congress in New York. He remained a professor of English at NYU until his retirement in 1961. He died in 1967.

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Scope and Contents

The University Archives holds one file of documents, including approximately 10 questionnaires and attached correspondence, that were used for Townsend's publication, "Good Reading: A Guide for Serious Readers," a suggested guideline of important titles for readers among a diversity of fields.


The materials are arranged in the order in which they were received.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Arnold, Thurman Wesley, 1891-1969
  • Benet, Stephen Vincent, 1898-1943
  • Chase, Stuart, 1888-1985
  • Snow, Edgar, 1905-1972
  • Yutang, Lin , 1895-1976

Subject Topics

  • Education -- Study and teaching -- United States
  • Literature -- Study and teaching

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Atwood Townsend are maintained by New York University. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from New York University Archives. Please contact

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Atwood Townsend Papers; MC 64; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials found in collection; provenance is unknown.

Processing Information

Processing decisions made prior to January 2019 were not recorded.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: Shared University Archives 008 Folder : 6 "Good Reading Questionnaire"

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