Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marcus Bruce Christian (1900-1976), Louisiana Librarian

Marcus Bruce Christian (1900-1976) was assistant librarian at Dillard University from 1944-1950. Mr. Christian, a native of Mechanicsville, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, was the son of Emanuel Banks Christian and Ruth Harris Christian. As a child, Mr. Christian attended school at the Houma Academy.

In addition to his work as a librarian, Mr. Christian was also a poet and author. In 1936, Christian joined the Federal Writers Project. This program was part of the Work Progress Administration (also known as WPA; later as the Works Project Administration) and was charged with providing jobs for authors, historians, and educators. Christian was assigned to the Louisiana Writers Project (LWP), the Louisiana section of the Federal Writers Project. He spent six years with the LWP, working on the history African Americans in Louisiana. His work on the project was done at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In 1943, Christian received a fellowship from the Rosenwald Fund* to study African American history. In 1944, he began his library career at Dillard University. Christian also published pieces in The Crisis, Phylon, Opportunity, New York Herald Tribune, Pittsburgh Courier, and in the Louisiana Weekly (he served as editor). He was a contemporary of Arna Wendell Bontemps and Langston Hughes.

Christian's works included:

From the Deep South (1937)
In Memoriam, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Thirty-Second President of the United States of America, Who Died Thursday, April Twelfth, Nineteen Forty-Five (1945)

Common People's Manifesto of World War II (1948)

High Ground: A Collection of Poems Published in Commemoration of the United States Supreme Court's Decision of May 17, 1954, and Its Final Decree of May 31, 1955, Abolishing Racial Segregation in the Nation's Public Schools (1958)

Negro Soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans (1965)

Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana, 1718-1900 (1972)

I Am New Orleans and Other Poems (1999 -- published posthumously)

In his later years, Christian taught history at the University of New Orleans. Mr. Christian passed away on November 21, 1976. His papers are housed in the Louisiana and Special Collections Department of the Earl K. Long Library at the University of New Orleans.

*Note: The Rosenwald Fund was founded in 1917 by Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), an executive of Sears, Roebuck, and Company.  The Rosenwald Fund provided money to build schools (known as the "Rosenwald Schools), and provided aid to colleges and universities, libraries, museums, and other institutions. In addition, the Rosenwald Fund paid for African Americans to attend the First Negro Library Conference in 1927 at the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) and to receive training in 1930 at the Summer Librarian Institute at Spelman College.

See related posts: Dryades Branch of the New Orleans Public Library (New Orleans, Louisiana) : A Colored Carnegie Library ; Arna Wendell Bontemps: Fisk University Librarian, Poet, and Author ; and Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, 1874-1938: Noted Bibliophile, Collector, Curator, and Scholar.

Sources: Mizell-Nelson, Michael. "Marcus Bruce Christian." Harlem Renaissance Lives from the African American National Biography. Ed. Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. New York: Oxford U P, 2009. 115-116. Print. ; Hessler, Marilyn S. "Marcus Christian: The Man and His Collection." Louisiana History 28.1 (1987): 37-55. Print. ; "Marcus Bruce Christian." Black Librarians Table. Chicken Bones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African American Themes, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2010. ; Redding, Joan. "The Dillard Project: The Black Unit of the Louisiana Writers' Project." Louisiana History 32.1 (1991): 47-62. Print. ; Johnson, Jerah. "Marcus B. Christian and the WPA History of Black People in Louisiana." Louisiana History 20.1 (1979): 113-115. Print. ; Dalin, David G. (1998). "What Julius Rosenwald Knew." Commentary 105.4 (1998): 36-39. Print.; Fenton, Michele T. "Stepping Out on Faith: Lillian Haydon Childress Hall, Pioneer Black Librarian." Indiana Libraries 33.1 (2014): 6. Print. ; Curtis, Florence Rising. "Colored Librarians in Conference." Library Journal 52.8 (1927): 408. Print. ; "Personal." Library Occurrent 8.2 (1927): 66. Print. ; "Library Institute for Negro Librarians." Library Journal 55.18 (1930): 932. Print.


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