Fresno State Library Namesake Was a Nazi Sympathizer. Task Force Will Review Renaming.

Fresno State’s library has borne the name of longtime librarian Henry Madden since 1981, but the university is considering a name change after anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi beliefs were uncovered in his personal papers, university president Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said Monday in an open letter to the university community. Madden’s personal papers, held in the Library Special […]

Fresno State Library Namesake Was a Nazi Sympathizer. Task Force Will Review Renaming.

Fresno State’s library has borne the name of longtime librarian Henry Madden since 1981, but the university is considering a name change after anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi beliefs were uncovered in his personal papers, university president Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said Monday in an open letter to the university community.

Madden’s personal papers, held in the Library Special Collections, “express clear anti-Semitic hate” and have prompted Jiménez-Sandoval to create a task force to review the library’s naming.

The papers were donated in 1982 by the Madden estate with the stipulation that they remain sealed until August 2007. Dr. Bradley W. Hart, a media, communications, and journalism associate professor at Fresno State, included information from the papers in a 2018 book project, “Hitler’s American Friends,” that he shared with students in a class taught by Dr. Lori Clune, a Fresno State history professor.

Hart, Clune, and the students then brought the information to the attention of the university’s senior leadership, Jiménez-Sandoval said.

‘Contrary to Fresno State’s Core Values’

“These views run entirely contrary to Fresno State’s core values of diversity, equity and inclusion and the efforts of our campus community to live by those values. 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 said.

“I recognize that this news will deeply impact those in our community in a variety of ways. First and foremost, I want members of our Jewish community to know that we stand with you and against both the historic and ongoing antisemitism that remains all too present in our society. As soon as I learned of this information, I shared it with Jerry Mann, chair of the President’s Jewish Leadership Council, who then shared it with the Council. I appreciate their willingness to work with us in our effort to ensure a safe and inclusive campus community.”

Jiménez-Sandoval said he asked Michael Lukens, executive director of governmental relations, to chair the task force on renaming the library that will include students, faculty, staff, and community leaders.

A 1999 copyrighted article by the American Library Association lauded Madden’s work in developing Fresno State’s library and called him “a recognized leader in the library profession, particularly in the area of intellectual freedom.”