Longtime curator at Hoover dead at 85

Agnes F. Peterson, who helped acquire some of the Hoover Institution's most valuable archival collections during her four decades as a reference librarian and curator, died Sept. 1 of heart failure. She was 85.

Peterson was hired in 1952 and six years later became curator of Hoover's Central and Western European Collection, a position she held until her retirement in 1993. She ordered tens of thousands of books for thousands of scholars and facilitated the acquisition of some of Hoover's key documents, including the papers of French politician Louis Loucheur, the early diaries of Nazi Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler and videos and posters relating to German reunification. For decades she managed the library's depository role for the publications of the emerging European Community.

She also helped compile a guide to the content of 146 reels of microfilm containing Nazi Party documents and was recognized as a leading expert on the work of the German communist Rosa Luxemburg.

Along with organizing a series of free public lectures at Stanford, she also helped start the Institute for Historical Study and the Great War Society.

Born in Berlin in 1923, Peterson moved with her family to Switzerland before they settled in Canada in 1937.

Softly voiced, rigorously accurate, unfailingly polite and intellectually curious, Peterson was awarded the Order of Leopold II by Belgium in 1980 for her work making Belgian history accessible to people in the Bay Area. She was appointed a Hoover Institution fellow in 1986 in recognition of her research and writing. She also received the Distinguished Service Award of the Stanford University Library Council in 1990.

In accordance with Peterson's wishes, there was a small, private burial service after her death. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Louis John Peterson.