Granger's Index to Poetry

The reference resource referred to now as The Columbia Granger’s Index to Poetry was originally published by Chicago’s A.C. McClurg & Company in 1904 under the descriptive title An Index to Poetry and Recitations; Being a Practical Reference Manual for the Librarian, Teacher, Bookseller, Elocutionist, etc. The first draft of this book landed on the desk of a young editor sometime in 1902. That editor was Edith Granger.

A native Chicagoan, Granger returned to her home city after earning her A.B. from Smith College in 1891. There are some conflicting accounts of which years she worked for A.C. McClurg. However, it is evident by the work she brought to publication, that she was very productive for the publisher from the years 1899-1906.

A.C. McClurg, in addition to publishing, also owned the largest bookstore at the time in Chicago. Out of a need to help customers find poems and verse in their inventory of poetry collections, booksellers in the poetry department conceived of a first draft to what would become the Index (Quinn 1873). While the Index has at times been contributed as the brainchild of Granger, in her own words of the preface in 1904, she acknowledges a Mr. P.W. Coussens as someone who developed this first draft that she went on to edit. This first edition contained three indexes; an author index, title index, and first-line index. An appendix was included to be of “especial use to teachers and pupils” by listing works for holidays and titles about notable people among other useful lists (Granger 5). According to Edith's mother, as mentioned in chapter 23 of her autobiographical manuscript, "Memories: Grave and Gay," Edith worked for A.C. McClurg & Co. by "making their catalogs, and reviewing books for their large annual catalog. She spent two years making 'Granger's Index to Poetry and Recitations.' "

After leaving A.C. McClurg in 1906, Granger’s Index continued on without Edith Granger. She went on to marry and become Edith Granger Hawkes in 1908. But she never abandoned her literary career, even while postmistress of Fulton, CA. She continued to write her own poetry, as she had since high school (she was named "Class Poet"), and was active in the League of American Pen Women, and published numerous articles.

Columbia University Press began publishing the Index in 1953. After eight editions (and 86 years of publication), Edith began to share her name with the publisher, and Granger's Index to Poetry became Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. According to Rawlinson and Hoffert, "Columbia made the title change after a discussion with librarians at the 1988 ALA conference confirmed what they'd already suspected; librarians know Granger's but many were unaware of the publisher." Columbia wanted to represent a "strong image" as a publisher of core reference titles and so risked possibly angering librarians and proceeded with the new title.

Columbia has also trademarked the name ("Columbia Granger's...") and publishes a number of related titles under the brand. In 1991, they produced a CD-ROM version and in 2000, launched the online version.

Works Consulted

  • Granger, Edith ed. An Index to Poetry and Recitations; Being a Practical Reference Manual for the Librarian, Teacher, Bookseller, Elocutionist, etc. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1904.

  • Granger, Martha. Memories: Grave and Gay, n.d.

  • Quinn, Mary Ellen. "Another look at... the Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry in Anthologies." Booklist 98, no. 21 (July 2002): 1873.

  • Rawlinson, Nora, and Barbara Hoffert. "Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry (book)." Library Journal 114, no. 15 (September 1989): 101.