Vivian Gordon Harsh (1890-1960), a native of Chicago, Illinois, was the first African American librarian to work at the Chicago Public Library. Ms. Harsh began her career at the Chicago Public Library in 1909 as a clerk, and in 1924, began working at the library as a librarian. She studied library science at Simmons College and the University of Chicago.
In 1932, the Chicago Public Library built the George Cleveland Hall Branch. This was the first branch in the system that was located in an African American neighborhood. Harsh served as the branch's manager. Charlemae Hill Rollins, another African American librarian, served as the head of the branch's children's department. Ms. Harsh remained at the Chicago Public Library until her retirement in 1958. Ms. Harsh passed away in 1960.
See related post: Charlemae Hill Rollins and the Chicago Public Library.
Sources: Joyce, Donald Franklin. "Vivian Gordon Harsh Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library." Library Quarterly 58.1 (1988): 67-74. Print. ; "Black History Prophets and Custodians: Handful of Men and Women Created Foundations of Saga of Persistence and Creativity." Ebony 50.4 (1995): 90. Print. ; Harris, Kathryn M. "Generations of Pride: African American Timeline: A Selected Chronology." Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. ; Shaw, Spencer G. "Not What You Get, But What You Give." The Black Librarian in America. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1970. 153. Print. ; Garner, Carla W. "Harsh, Vivian Gordon (1890-1960)." BlackPast.org. BlackPast.org, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2011. ; Bobinski, George S. Libraries and Librarianship: Sixty Years of Challenge and Change, 1945-2005. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2007. 99. Print.