Search site



Obituary: Mr Russell S Mortimer

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death, on 18 March 2004, of Mr Russell Mortimer, former Senior Sub-Librarian in the University Library.

Born in 1914, Mr Mortimer read History at the University of Bristol and went on to complete the University of London Diploma in Librarianship. He was appointed as Assistant Librarian at Leeds in 1938 and within the space of a few years assumed temporary charge of the Cataloguing Room. Made a Fellow of the Library Association in 1945, Mr Mortimer left Leeds in that year in order to broaden his experience in a post at the London School of Economics. He returned to Leeds in 1948, as Sub-Librarian in charge of cataloguing, and was made Senior Sub-Librarian in 1953.

In the course of a career in the University that was to extend over almost forty years, Mr Mortimer became renowned for his unrivalled knowledge of the Librarys collections, which went hand-in-hand with remarkable energy and devotion to his work.

One of the most selfless of individuals, his vast store of knowledge was freely and generously shared with readers and colleagues alike; many new entrants to the profession were indebted to him for the exemplary training they received in cataloguing and classification.

Writing in the University Review on the occasion of Mr Mortimers retirement, the then University Librarian, Mr Dennis Cox, observed Russell Mortimers energy is a legend. If cataloguers were paid by piece-work, he would be a very rich man; his ability to answer the most complicated query in the shortest possible time, and type out the answer himself, is unique; and those who have known him longest will never forget the physical leadership he gave when those joyful annual summer movements of books took place.

Mr Mortimers effectiveness as a Librarian derived in no small measure from his own research inclinations. In 1946, he was awarded his MA by Bristol for his thesis on Quakerism in that city during the seventeenth century. He went on to publish a series of books and articles on the history of Quakers and served for many years as one of the editors of the Journal of the Friends Historical Society.

The establishment of the Library as a major centre for the study of Quaker history in Yorkshire owes everything to him. Mr Mortimer retired in September 1979 but, pursuing his research interests, continued until very recently to be a welcome and regular visitor to the Library.

Mr Mortimer is survived by his wife, Jean, herself a former member of the Library staff. A memorial service for Mr Mortimer is to be held at Carlton Hill Friends Meeting House, 188 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds 2, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, 15 April 2004.

Published: 23 March 2004