Former U dean, devoted Sherlock Holmes fan, dies

Erret W. “Mac” McDiarmid, former dean of the College of Science, Literature and the Arts and former professor at the University, died on April 27 in St. Paul at the age of 90.
McDiarmid was one of the world’s largest fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. He was the driving force behind building the University’s collection of Doyle and Sherlock Holmes literature.
In 1995 he donated his personal collection — including 15,000 volumes, documents, recordings and artifacts — to the University libraries.
McDiarmid graduated from Texas Christian University in 1929, then received his master’s in history from the same school one year later. He went on to earn another bachelor’s degree in library science from Emory University in 1931, as well as a doctorate in library science from the University of Chicago in 1934.
He came to the University in 1943 and was librarian and director of library instruction until 1951, when he was promoted to a dean position.
McDiarmid was dean of the College of Science, Literature and the Arts — predecessor to the College of Liberal Arts — for 12 years. He then taught in the graduate school and the library school until his retirement in 1978.
McDiarmid is survived by three daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for “Mac” McDiarmid is scheduled for 1 p.m Tuesday at the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Avenue, St. Paul. The family asks that memorial gifts go to the Sherlock Holmes portion of the University’s Special Collections and Rare Books Department.

— Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [email protected]