Miss Estelle Lutrell: an exhibit about UA Library History

Estelle Lutrell: A Brief Biography

Christian College's Class of 1888
Christian University's Class of 1888.
Hull Laboratories Library, University of Chicago.
Hull Laboratories Library, University of Chicago.

Dr. Carl Berkhout, Professor of English at the University of Arizona, has done extensive study of Estelle Lutrell. He was unable to locate a birth certificate for her through Boston’s Public Records, but did retrieve a copy of her parents' certificate of marriage, dated March 24, 1868. Although Estelle gave the date of her birth as October 27, 1870 (sometimes 1871), Dr. Berkhout determined that the correct year must be 1869 because he discovered documentation indicating that the Lutrells and daughter Estelle (at least six months old then) were living in Quincy, Illinois in June 1870.   

As a teenager in the late 1880’s, Estelle attended Christian College in Canton, Missouri , where her father was a music instructor. After leaving Christian College, Estelle enrolled at the University of Chicago and worked part-time in the University’s main library while earning a degree in English and modern languages. She graduated in 1896 and was employed for about three years in the university’s new Hull Biological Laboratories’ library. Although she did not have a degree in library science, this would be her first full-time position in a library.  Estelle also attended some graduate courses, but did not receive her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago until 1924.

Marshall Field's in Chicago
Marshall Field's in Chicago.

She gained further library experience working as a junior assistant in the well-known library founded by Chicago industrial magnate and philanthropist John Crerar. At that time, the Crerar Library was located on the fifth and sixth floors of a building annexed to the famous Marshall Field & Co. Store in Chicago’s Loop. Shortly after the turn of the century, Estelle would enter Arizona Territory and join President Parker’s staff at the University of Arizona.  She would take on a dual role, instructor in English and librarian.