Partner With Us!
Written By: Jesse LaTour
Nancy-Lee Carmichael moved to Fullerton from Ohio in 1923, when she was a teenager. Her father, a local merchant and orange rancher, was on Fullerton City Council in the 1920s. After graduating from Fullerton Union High School in 1925, she attended Mills College and then USC, obtaining degrees in library science. After a brief stint at the Los Angeles Public Library, she was hired as the assistant librarian at Fullerton Union High School.
Up until the 1930s, Fullerton Union High School and Fullerton College shared a single library on the high school campus. Nancy Lee Carmichael was an assistant librarian when Fullerton College decided to build its own library. For a time, the library was in a temporary facility in the girls gym. Eventually it found a more permanent home on the ground floor of the new science building.
Carmichael was hired as Head Librarian of Fullerton College in 1941. In 1943, when the country was engulfed in WWII, she took a leave of absence to become an Army librarian. She was stationed at Camp Anza, Arlington, California for twenty-nine months, which was a secret staging area for the China-Burma-India theater of operations. Then she was transferred overseas to the Third Army. She drove a bookmobile and covered ninety miles each day servicing all units in the 396th regiment stationed in Czeschoslovakia. She returned to Fullerton College in 1946, where she worked until her retirement in 1962.
“Did you know the Ku Klux Klan was active in Fullerton in the 20s? A cross was burning in our yard, 318 West Malvern, in 1924 when I went out to pick up the morning paper. My father was running for the City Council. I still have that cross.”
“The junior college library was in the old girls’ gymnasium. I remember getting up early in the morning, coming to school, and going in there early in the morning and finding bats in the library!”
Nancy Lee Carmichael in an interview recorded by Anne Riley on July 26, 1971, Fullerton College Oral History Program, Fullerton College Library Special Collections.
The Torch Yearbook 1953
The Torch Yearbook 1954