Volume 91 1982 > Volume 91, No. 4 > Obituary: Margaret Titcomb, 1891-1982, p 593-594
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Margaret Titcomb (1891—1982)

Margaret Titcomb, Librarian Emeritus of Bernice P. Bishop Museum and head librarian from 1931 to 1969, died in Honolulu on August 28, 1982, at the age of 91. Miss Titcomb was born in 1891 in Denver, Colorado. She was reared by adoptive parents in Brooklyn, New York, where she graduated from Packer Collegiate Institute. She joined the American Museum of Natural History as assistant librarian in 1924, and in 1931 accepted appointment as librarian of Bishop Museum.

During her years at Bishop Museum, Margaret Titcomb brought the Museum library to a position of eminence. Working with limited resources, she used exchanges of Museum publications and an ever-increasing bibliographic knowledge gained through extensive travel plus a wide circle of colleagues in natural history, anthropology and history, to build a library of distinction in the Pacific field. Under her hand, the Museum library catalogue became a model of analytic bibliography. It was published by G. K. Hall in 1964-1969 in nine volumes and two supplements.

Margaret Titcomb was also a scholar. Her monograph, in collaboration with Mary Kawena Pukui, on the Native Uses of Fish in Hawaii was published in 1952 as Memoir No. 29 of The Polynesian Society, and was reprinted by the University of Hawaii Press in 1972. In 1969, Bishop Museum Press published her Dog and Man in the Ancient Pacific, and in 1978 Native Use of Marine Invertebrates in Old Hawaii (with Fellows, Pukui, and Devaney) appeared as a special monograph issue of Pacific Science. She earlier published a children's book on Polynesian migration, The Voyage of the Flying Bird, in 1963, which won the Dodd, Mead Librarian and Teacher Prize and was reprinted in 1970. Her translation with Harold St. John of the observations of the French botanist Gaudichard-Beaupré of the vegetation of Hawaii in 1819, is about to be published by Bishop Museum Press.

The Bishop Museum Library, over which Margaret Titcomb presided, was a port of call for virtually all Pacific historians and anthropologists of her time. With many she maintained a voluminous correspondence, and extended generous hospitality during their visits to Honolulu. J. C. Beaglehole, Phyllis Mander-Jones, Harry and Honor Maude, Père Patrick O'Reilly, Bengt Danielsson, Douglas Oliver, and E. S. C. Handy are among the many scholars she counted as both professional colleagues and friends.

Alexander Spoehr

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