In 1938, student interest in medieval studies was strong. In the History Department, four graduate students were writing dissertations on the following topics relating to medieval England: Anglo-Saxon Lordship, legislation, public works, and public debates. Also in 1938 Laistner prepared a report in which he appealed for additional financial resources to increase the number of graduate fellowships and to purchase historical documents.
Excerpt from Laistner’s “Report on the Present State of Historical Research in Cornell University and on its Future Needs”:
“I shall attempt to indicate in what fields the historical material in the Cornell library is good or adequate and in which it is insufficient […] To the humanist the University library is what the laboratory is to the scientific inquirer […] in English medieval history, the library is probably better than any in this country except Harvard […] In the particular branch of ecclesiastical history the Cornell Library has many deficiencies […] The needs are especially noted, to acquire large collections of sources that are now lacking such as the Ordonnances des rois de France [and] a decent collection of paleographical works […] The two sets of documents that are most urgently needed by the professor of Medieval History and his graduate students would together cost about $1,000 […] Cornell needs more graduate fellowships:] every year there are first class applicants in History who are lost to Cornell simply because the number of available fellowships and assistant-ships is too small.”
In 1940 the officers of the “Friends of Medieval Studies” issued another report in which they announced a plan to work with the University Librarian “to fill serious gaps in the present collections of legal records, social documents of various sorts, periodicals, and books, which cut across departmental lines, to provide materials needed for study” (Cornell Library Records, 13-11-1082, box 113). They had a strong ally in Dr. Otto Kinkeldey, Cornell Librarian from 1930 to 1946, and the author of articles on the history of musical notation and on the challenges associated with printing music during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.