Kenneth Everard Niven Ingram (1921-2007) - The National Library of Jamaica

Kenneth Everard Niven Ingram (1921-2007)

A Librarian and Bibliographer, K.E. Ingram – as he was known – made an outstanding contribution to Librarianship and Historical Scholarship in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Born in St. Ann in 1921, Kenneth Ingram was educated at Jamaica College between the years 1932 and 1939. In 1941, he joined the staff of the Institute of Jamaica, thereby beginning a long-standing connection with the Institution where he served as a founding member of the Board of Management of the National Library of Jamaica. He worked in the West India Reference Library for three years before going to the United Kingdom to study for his degree and to qualify as a Librarian. He was one of the first Jamaicans to qualify as a professional Librarian and when he returned home in 1947 he was appointed supervisor of the West India Reference Library.

He held this position until 1950 when he joined the staff of the then University College of the West Indies. He spent the next 30 years at the University Library before retiring in 1981 as University Librarian, a position he had held for ten years.

A founding member of the Jamaica Library Association he served as its first Secretary from 1950 to 1953. He was very active in the professional association and served in various other offices including that of President in 1956 and 1972. He was also involved in regional library activities which culminated in his election in 1976 as President of the Association of Caribbean Universities, research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL).

While his career as a librarian was outstanding, it was as a bibliographer that K.E. Ingram has distinguished himself and has a permanent record of his accomplishments. He had a life-long quest to identify, record and whenever possible obtain for Jamaica copies of primary source materials on our history held by repositories overseas. He compiled a number of guides which are indispensable tools to researchers and other persons interested in the history of the region. Through his painstaking research in countless libraries and archives chiefly in North America and the United Kingdom, hirtherto unknown or inaccessible materials have come to light.

Scholarly, witty and urbane, K.E. Ingram is also a poet and his poems have appeared in Focus, Caribbean Quarterly and other publications. Had he continued to write and publish poetry he might have become one of the major poets of the region. Had this happened, the field of Librarianship and Historical Scholarship would have lost a major figure, who through his career and accomplishments  established a high standard of excellence that is difficult to surpass.


He was awarded:

  • Dunn & Wilson Award by the University College, London, for work of distinguished eminence in teh field of Librarianship and Historical Scholarship
  • a Gold Musgrave Medal for his distinguished eminence in the field of Librarianship and Historical Scholarship.
  • Officer of the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica
  • Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, by the University of the West Indies in 2002

Major Publications

  • Jamaica (vol. 45 in the World of Bibliography series). Clio Press, 1984.
  • Sources of west Indian Studies: a Supplementary list with particular reference manuscript sources. Inter-Documentation Company, 1983.
  • Manuscripts relating to Commonwealth Caribbean Countries in United States and Canadian repositories. Caribbean Universities Press, 1975.
  •  Sources of Jamaica History 1838 – 1955: a bibliography survey with particular reference to manuscript sources. Inter-Documentation Company, 1976 (2 Vols.).
  • Libraries and the challenge of change: papers of the International Library Conference held in Kingston, Jamaica 24 -29 April, 1972. edited by K.E. Ingram and Albertina Jefferson. Mansell 1975.
  • The Q.C. and the Middleman: including a reprint of the Report of the cases Ingram vs Lowry. Edinburgh: Pentland Press, 1997.