Fresno State University’s Madden Library to be renamed over Nazi sympathies

The Fresno State library has been named after Henry Madden, who was the university’s librarian from 1949 to 1979, since 1981.

 California State University, Fresno. Henry Madden Library. (photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
California State University, Fresno. Henry Madden Library.
(photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Fresno State University in California announced on Monday that the Henry Madden Library will be renamed after Madden’s history of antisemitic beliefs and sympathies for the Nazis was discovered.

The new findings come from what Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval called a “special collection” of writings donated by the Madden estate in 1982 – with the stipulation that they remain sealed until 2007.

“Last week, my senior leadership team and I were made aware that Henry Madden held deeply antisemitic views and Nazi sympathies, as reflected in his own writings and papers,” Jiménez-Sandoval announced in a campus-wide email.

“The views attributed to Dr. Madden are more than allegations; they are reflections of his beliefs as captured in his own words and in documents he curated and donated to the Library before his passing,” Jiménez-Sandoval declared.

 The Henry Madden Library on the campus of California State University Fresno. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) The Henry Madden Library on the campus of California State University Fresno. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The Fresno State library has been named after Madden, who was the university’s librarian from 1949 to 1979, since 1981. He passed away just a year later, around the time the original documents were donated, according to an in-memoriam article by ACRL College & Research Libraries.

Jiménez-Sandoval said Fresno State has commissioned a task force to review and ultimately rename the library.

Student Bradley W. Hart shared his initial research findings from a 2018 project in a class instructed by Dr. Lori Clune. Clune told The Fresno Bee that Hart during Clune’s “History 174” course, which pertains to World War II-era US history, Hart asked several questions about the venerated Madden, who was curiously mentioned in the afterword of the book Hart was studying, Hitler’s American Friends.

Students were “horrified” that the library was named after a man with such “abhorrent” views, Clune said. “It’s just a remarkable library on all levels. And so the idea that, on any level, this is negative toward that amazing place is very depressing,” added Clune, who brought the issue to the attention of university officials.

The process of renaming the library will be carried out by the “Task Force to Review the Naming of the University Library.” Dr. Clune will serve on the task force.

“It does speak to the challenge of naming things after people. People can disappoint you... “We also in the history department feel strongly that we need to go through his rather extensive collection and really try to understand this very complicated man … which many folks in history are,” Clune concluded.