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California Library Hall of Fame: May Dexter Henshall
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California Library Hall of Fame

May Dexter Henshall (1867-1962)

Considered one of California’s great early county and school library organizers, May Dexter Henshall played a key role in the development of library services in the early 20th century. As Yolo County school superintendent, she developed the district’s school libraries by merging them with the fledgling Yolo County Library. Her county-school library program was so successful that, in 1915, she was hired as the California State Library’s school library organizer, replacing Harriet Eddy as the state’s county library organizer in 1917. Henshall spent 22 years traveling throughout California, establishing county-school district library partnerships and helping create county libraries. She spoke regularly at professional meetings and conferences and published articles on school and county libraries in various journals, including Library Journal, Bulletin of the American Library Association, News Notes of California Libraries, and School Life. Throughout the 1920s she also taught at the UC Berkeley’s School of Librarianship. Henshall retired in 1937.


May Dexter Henshall was inducted into the California Library Hall of Fame in 2016. For more information about her, please see:

  • May Dexter Henshall, County Library Organizing. Sacramento: California State Library, 1933.

  • Carma Leigh, “May Dexter Henshall.” California Librarian 23 (October 1962): 225-26.


Photo credit:  Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, CA