Born in 1872 in Paris, France, Frances Jenkins Olcott was one of the most influential figures in children’s literature. She was raised in New York in a household rich with stories, including a mother who translated children’s stories from the French language. After graduating from New York State Library School in 1896, she worked at the Brooklyn Public Library until 1898, when she left to work at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. She was the first librarian to develop the children’s department at the library and also organized the Training School for Children’s Librarians.
Olcott believed that children should have access to stories, and began outreach programs with story hours and libraries to homes, libraries, and even detention centers. Her work during her tenure at the Carnegie Library set the standard for librarians today. She returned to New York in 1911, and began authoring multiple books for children and librarians, including collections of fairy tales and folk tales. By her death in 1963, she had authored more than 24 volumes.