California State University, Fresno, will officially rename the Henry Madden Library, dropping its namesake over his antisemitic views, a move formalized Wednesday by a vote of the California State University Board of Trustees. The change comes after months of deliberation.
Fresno State formed a task force to study the issue in December and released a report in May that found Madden, a university librarian from 1949 to 1979, expressed antisemitic views and Nazi sympathies. Madden’s views were uncovered in materials he donated to the library in 1982, including letters he had written, that were sealed until 2007, per an agreement with his estate.
Beyond Madden’s antisemitism, the task force also found racism aimed at other groups.
“I charged the task force to determine whether there had been a development of thought that led Dr. Madden to reject the hateful views that he held in his twenties and thirties,” Fresno State president Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said in a university news release. “Since Dr. Madden personally curated the materials before turning them over to the library, he was fully aware of their contents and knowingly included the disturbing letters and documents in the collection. While Dr. Madden had the opportunity later in life to reflect on those views, there is no evidence that he renounced those views. It is unfortunate that the undercurrents of his racist views remained palpable throughout his life. Naming a building or any key campus area must align with our communal values and reflect our shared spirit of discovery, diversity and distinction. ”
The library, named for Madden in 1980, will now be known simply as Fresno State Library unless trustees approve another name change. Work will begin immediately to remove Madden’s name.