Carty, James (1900–59), historian, librarian, and bibliographer, was born in Wexford on 7 August 1900, one of the four sons of Francis Carty, a barber, and his wife, Margaret (née Storey). In 1920, while he was still a student at UCD, he was employed by the Department of External Affairs of Dáil Éireann under Robert Brennan (qv). He entered the civil service of the Irish Free State but he was suspended in 1923 for having engaged in anti-treaty political activity. He resumed his studies and eventually obtained an MA in history. In 1932 he rejoined the civil service, going to the Department of Agriculture but transferring in April 1933 to the NLI, where he served as an assistant librarian until ill-health forced his retirement in 1958.
Carty wrote a series of history textbooks for use in Irish primary and secondary schools: A class-book of Irish history (part I, 1929; parts II–IV, 1930–31); A junior history of Ireland (parts I–II, 1932–3); and European history (parts I–II, 1937–40). Well written, choicely illustrated, clearly presented and judicious in treatment, they covered Irish history from the stone age to 1921 (but Europe to 1500 only). The books on Ireland were reprinted and translated into Irish. He also edited a series of select documents: Ireland from the flight of the earls to Grattan's parliament (1607–1782): a documentary record (1949); Ireland from Grattan's parliament to the great famine (1783–1850): a documentary record (1949); and Ireland from the great famine to the treaty (1851–1921): a documentary record (1951). The two latter titles were reprinted as late as 1965.
Carty is best remembered not as a librarian or historian but as an indexer of historical works. His Bibliography of Irish history, 1912–1921 (1936) and Bibliography of Irish history, 1870–1911 (1940), based on the holdings of the National Library, remain valuable for their comprehensiveness and thoroughness. He contributed to the first issue of Irish Historical Studies (1938) with ‘Writings on Irish history, 1936’, thus establishing an annual series marked by the same qualities. His connection with ‘Writings’ lasted until 1958. For some years he was a leader writer on the Irish Times; he also contributed a series, ‘This happened today’, to the Irish Press. James Carty died 22 April 1959 at his home, 6 Mountain View Road, Ranelagh, Dublin. Predeceased by his wife (d. 1958), Mairéad Ní Chaitheasaigh, he was survived by his sons, Denis and Niall, and his daughter, Margaret. A brother, Francis Carty (qv), was editor of the Irish Press.