Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Libraries Must Have Made Santa’s “Nice” List This Year: Professor Emerita’s timeless Night Before Christmas Collection Gifted to Archives and Special Collections

December 22nd, 2021

Judith M. Nixon, Professor Emerita of Library Science, has decided to donate her collection of illustrated versions of Clement C. Moore’s Night Before Christmas to Purdue Libraries Archives and Special Collections, and to provide a generous endowment for the care and development of the collection. Fittingly, the first nine editions of the donation were delivered to the library on St. Nicholas Day, December 6, 2021. There, Nixon personally passed these treasured volumes into the hands of Archivist for University History Adriana Harmeyer for preservation, safekeeping, and the enjoyment of generations of Boilermakers to come.

Nixon, a longtime Libraries faculty member and recent retiree, frequently shared the joy and wonder of this personal collection with the Libraries staff during her tenure at Purdue, often bringing select editions into the library and giving presentations during the holiday season; long considered a highlight for many who work in Libraries. The staff’s enthusiasm for these books was one of the main reasons Nixon decided to donate her collection to the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections unit.  

Nixon and her husband Bob have been collecting both old and new editions of Night Before Christmas since 1977 when they bought Elisa Trimby’s newly published illustrated edition in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for $5.95. Today, the Judith Nixon Night Before Christmas Collection includes illustrated editions by famous artists such as Thomas Nast, W. W. Denslow (the first illustrator of the Oz books), Jessie Wilcox Smith, Arthur Rackham, Grandma Moses, Reginald Birch, Tasha Tudor, Tomie de Paola, and hundreds of others. 

About Judith M. Nixon: Nixon received her M.A. in Library Science from the University of Iowa in 1974 and her B.S. degree from Valparaiso University in Education in 1967.

Nixon and her husband Bob served in the U.S. Peace Corps as English language teachers from 1968-69 in the Kingdom of Tonga. After completing her M.A. in Library Science, Nixon worked as a reference librarian and business specialist from 1974-1984 at various institutions: Cedar Rapids Public Library, University of Wisconsin-Platteville and University of Arizona before coming to Purdue in 1984 as the Consumer & Family Sciences Librarian.

At Purdue, Nixon held several positions spanning nearly four decades: Consumer & Family Sciences Librarian, Head of the Management and Economics Library, Head of the HSSE Library, and since 2009 as the Education Librarian. A prolific researcher, she has mentored many scholars in the field of Information Science through her work as co-editor of the Collection Management journal. She retired from Purdue on January 2, 2021, and was subsequently honored by the American Library Association for her lifetime of “achievements to the world of librarianship.” 

Professor Emerita Judith Nixon presents her rare editions of Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, to Dean Beth McNeil (left) and Archivist for University History Adriana Harmeyer (right).       
Professor Emerita Judith Nixon’s 1883 Illustrated Edition of Night Before Christmas
by Clement C. Moore, bound in purple velvet. Nixon considers this edition one of her favorites from the Judith Nixon Night Before Christmas Collection, now endowed through her generosity in Archives and Special Collections.