Charlotte G. Fletcher, 90, librarian


Charlotte Goldsborough Fletcher, a Maryland historian and author whose career as librarian at St. John's College spanned nearly four decades, died of pneumonia March 29 at Anne Arundel Medical Center. She was 90.

Born and raised in Cambridge, she was a descendant of Maryland governors Charles Goldsborough and Phillips L. Goldsborough.

After graduating from Cambridge High School, she earned her bachelor's degree in 1935 from what is now Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.

After earning her bachelor's degree in library science in 1939 from Columbia University, she began her career at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

In 1941, she began working as a librarian for the Talbot County Free Library, where she worked until joining St. John's in 1944.

"Charlotte made the library a center of civilization at St. John's and always made it an interesting place for both students and faculty and presided over it with a great sense of charm," said Rebecca M. Wilson, director of news and information at the college.

"She was a wonderful librarian and gave the library a certain humanity with her teas, conversation and knowledge of books and literature," said Eva T.H. Brann, a St. John's tutor since 1957. "She knew good stories, knew where everything was, and was the ideal of a librarian."

"I was in the first class that admitted women in 1950, and Charlotte was there when we arrived, and she was delighted. She ... took care of everyone, and had a great knowledge of books," said Emily M. Kutler. "Plus, she was from the Eastern Shore and she had all the graces of such a woman and worked hard keeping those ties."

Mrs. Kutler's husband, Samuel Kutler, is a graduate of and a tutor at St. John's.

"She was a fine historian and very cultivated and enjoyed attending classes at St. John's. In those days, St. John's was a very small community, and she got to know everyone," said Mr. Kutler yesterday.

"One of my jobs at St. John's was collecting the mail, and when I got to the library at 4:45 p.m., she'd always invite me to join her and the library staff of three for tea every day. I'd stop, have tea, and then leave a little after 5 p.m.," he said.

Mr. Kutler recalled how Miss Fletcher made the library available for Christmas shows and musicians.

"Musicians would come to St. John's on Friday night and give a formal concert and then they'd stay around on the weekend and would play in the library," he said.

Miss Fletcher wrote widely on Maryland history, including a history of St. John's College. Her book, St. John's Forever: Five Essays on the History of St. John's College, was published in 1990.

"Boy, did she have the stories about St. John's and even tracked down how we got our name," said Rosemary Harty, college communications director.

Miss Fletcher's research presented strong evidence that the college, chartered in 1784, was named by leaders of Annapolis who were Masons, to honor St. John the Evangelist.

Her book, Cato's Mirania: A Life of Provost Smith, published in 2002 by University Press of America, is a biography of Scotland-born William Smith, who chartered not only St. John's, but also Washington College in 1782.

Miss Fletcher was an unabashed and accomplished croquet player who kept a croquet set available at all times in the library.

"She grew up in the era when croquet was an elegant lawn game," said Rosabelle G. Wynn, of Falls Church, Va., a step-niece. "She told the students they could borrow the set whenever they wanted, but there was one hitch: They had to let her play -- and then she'd whip them."

Miss Fletcher, who lived in Annapolis, was an avid gardener who enjoyed sharing plants with friends and neighbors.

"She was very active until the end of her life. She loved to dance and was very good at it. She never missed the waltz parties at St. John's and I saw her waltzing and jitterbugging at a family wedding when she was 85," Ms. Wynn said.

"She also took immediately to computers and owned a desktop and printer as well as a laptop. She was writing her next book on her laptop at the time of her death. It was a collection of short stories. She was altogether an energetic and enthusiastic person," she said.

Miss Fletcher was an accomplished watercolorist, enjoyed attending the theater and was planning a trip to Europe when she died.

She was a member of the Maryland Historical Society, the Annapolis Watercolor Society, the Maryland Federation of Art and the Caritas Society.

Miss Fletcher was a longtime communicant of St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Church Circle, Annapolis, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Besides her step-niece, there are no survivors.

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