Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father and Daughter Librarians: Richard T. Greener and Belle Da Costa Greene (nee Belle Marion Greener)

In celebration of Fathers' Day, today's little known black librarian fact will focus on a father who was a librarian and his daughter who followed him into the profession:

Richard T. Greener (1844-1922), the first African American to graduate from Harvard University (1870), was a professor and the university librarian for the University of South Carolina (1873-1877). His daughter, Belle da Costa Greene (1883-1950; born Belle Marion Greener), was the librarian for the J.P. Morgan Library in New York City from 1905-1948.

Sources: Jordan, Casper Leroy, and E.J. Josey. "A Chronology of Events in Black Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 3. Print. ; Ardizzone, Heidi. An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Power. New York: Norton, 2007. Print. ; "Belle da Costa Greene." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010. Web. 29 Sep. 2010. ; Josey, E.J. "Foreword." Educating Black Librarians: Papers from the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the School of Library and Information Sciences, North Carolina Central University. Jefferson: McFarland, 1991. viii. Print.

Update 02/07/2013:

 The National Public Radio (NPR) show All Things Considered did a story in April of 2012 on how a demolition crew in Chicago discovered a trunk of old documents and books in an abandoned house. The documents and books were discovered to be those of Richard T. Greener. Click on the link to below to listen to the story:

Update 07/21/2014:

Richard T. Greener served a short term as principal of the M Street School (now Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in Washington, D.C. He held this position in 1873. Mr. Greener is briefly mentioned in Alison Stewart's book, "First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School."

Source: Stewart, Alison. First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2013. 37. Print.

Update 11/17/2015:

Richard T. Greener and Belle Da Costa Greene are briefly mentioned in a piece I wrote on Dunbar High School (Washington, D.C.):

Fenton, Michele. "Dunbar High School." African American Leadership: A Concise Reference Guide. [Santa Barbara, CA]: Mission Bell Media, 2015. 79-81. Print.

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