Remembering Elda Chisholm

Elda and John Chisholm’s wedding announcement featured a picture of the couple in front of MIT’s Great Dome.

Elda Digiuni Chisholm (1919-2019) was offered a job at the MIT Libraries the very day she applied in 1945. “Other women were afraid to apply for library jobs at MIT, because the work would be so technical, but not Mom,” said her son, John Chisholm, ’75, SM ’76, at Elda’s memorial service. “She was confident she could learn whatever she would need to learn.”

Elda remained at the Libraries until 1959. She continued to work in school and public libraries after relocating to Florida and would later earn her bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University at age 52. Elda worked as a school teacher until well into her 80s.

The Libraries were thrilled to welcome Elda back to the MIT campus in 2015, when she reminisced with Libraries staff about her tenure, reviewed Institute records from that time, and compared perspectives on library work, then and now. Back in Building 10, where she had worked 70 years prior, she remarked on the differences in the reading room under the Great Dome, which had recently been restored, its oculus uncovered for the first time since World War II. 

Elda passed away peacefully on September 4, 2019, 80 days after her 100th birthday. She generously included the Libraries in her estate plans, a tribute to a place that helped nourish her lifelong passion for education, according to John: “The MIT Libraries were dear to her and among the most important relationships in her life.”