CSU trustees vote to remove Nazi sympathizer’s name from Fresno State library
The California State University Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to remove the name of a Nazi sympathizer from the Fresno State campus library after a monthslong process of formal requests, investigations and open forums.
The library will be referred to as the Fresno State Library or the Library and the removal of Henry Madden’s name from signage, websites and other locations will begin immediately, according to Fresno State spokesperson Lisa Bell.
A library naming task force will review the CSU naming policy, and the trustees will have to approve any name change. That could take a year or more, according to Bell.
The library was named in 1980 after Madden, the university librarian from 1949 to 1979. When he died in 1982, more than 50 boxes of his papers were sealed for 25 years as a condition of the gift, according to a task force formed to investigate Madden’s anti-Semitic views. It wasn’t until a Fresno State professor’s 2018 book, “Hitler’s American Friends,” was discussed in a history class in 2021 that the views came to light, according to the task force’s findings.
Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval formed a committee made up of professors, students and Jewish community leaders to sift through 100,000 documents and letters from Madden, and they compiled a report after five months recommending the removal of the name.
Madden wrote of a “violent” and “uncontrollable” phobia against Jewish people, and the task force did not find an instance of regret or sympathy as he grew older.
“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,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in a news release from Fresno State on Wednesday.
“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.”