Obituary: Frances Isley Hardie, MLS’68, PhD’80, Woman of Mystery

Fran Hardie, right, and Eleanor Morrissey at a Vanderbilt library event in the 1970s (VANDERBILT SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)
Fran Hardie, right, and Eleanor Morrissey at a Vanderbilt library event in the 1970s (VANDERBILT SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)

Frances Isley Hardie, former head of collections and acquisitions at Vanderbilt’s Jean and Alexander Heard Library, of Nashville, died Jan. 8, 2017. She was 90.

Born in Gary, Indiana, Hardie served in many positions at the Heard Library between 1968 and 1991 and made a lasting imprint on the university’s research collections. As head of collections and acquisitions, she also was responsible for developing a staff of research librarians with subject expertise whose roles would include building strong collections in their disciplines while also providing research assistance to students and faculty.

After graduating from Rockford College, Hardie served as a Quaker international volunteer in the Netherlands immediately after World War II. She then earned an M.A. in Russian history from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She taught Russian language and history at the University of Tennessee, going on to earn an M.L.S. from Peabody College and a Ph.D. in Russian from Vanderbilt. An avid mystery fan, she wrote her dissertation on Dostoevsky as a crime writer, a project that received compliments from distinguished scholar and mystery buff Jacques Barzun.

Hardie joined Vanderbilt’s library system in 1968 as Slavic bibliographer. As head of collections she engaged faculty across the disciplines in an effort to build research collections tailored to their research needs.

An anglophile, Hardie traveled to England to study librarianship at Oxford and also participate in programs about mystery writing in which crime and detective novelist P.D. James participated. She was a member of Vanderbilt’s Garden Club, Women’s Club and Bridge Club, as well as the P.E.O. Sisterhood, which supports achievement and advancement of women through scholarships, grants and awards. She chaired the Jane Austen Society for Middle Tennessee and taught classes about Jane Austen for Vanderbilt’s Retirement Learning program (now the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).

Survivors include her son, Robert Stephen Hardie, BE’79, and three grandchildren.