Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Arna Wendell Bontemps: Fisk University Librarian, Poet, and Author

Arna W. Bontemps (1902-1973), a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, was the first African American to serve as University Librarian for Fisk University (1943-1965). Mr. Bontemps, a 1943 graduate of the University of Chicago Library School, was also an author, poet, and a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He passed away in 1973.
See related post: Marcus Bruce Christian (1900-1976), Louisiana Librarian

Sources: "The Negro Writer in the United States: University of  California at Berkley Plays Host to Five-Day Seminar on Negro Literature." Ebony 20.1 (1964): 126, 131-132, 134. Print. ; Jordan, Casper Leroy, and Josey, E.J. "A Chronology of Events in Black Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 7. Print. ; "Arna Bontemps Named to Library Board." Jet 4.9 (1953): 51. Print. ; "Fisk's Famed Librarian, Bontemps, Moves Out of Post." Jet 28.13 (1965): 25. Print. ; "Author Arna Bontemps Dies Reading Rosary at Wake of Meharry Physician's Wife." Jet 44.13 (1973): 44. Print. ; Campbell, Dorothy Wilson. "Curators of African American Collections." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 191. Print. ; Shockley, Ann Allen. "Special Collections, Fisk University Library." Library Quarterly 58.2 (1988): 151, 154. Print. ; Sinnette, Elinor D. V.  Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile & Collector: A Biography. New York: New York Public Library, 1989. 115, 129. Print. ; Jones, Kirkland C. Renaissance Man from Louisiana: A Biography of Arna Wendell Bontemps. Westport: Greenwood, 1992. Print. ; Jefferson, Julius C. “The Black Male Librarian: An Endangered Species.” The National Diversity in Libraries Conference. Louisville Marriott Downtown, Louisville, KY. 3 Oct. 2008. Pdf.

Update 09/13/2012:

An additional article on Arna Wendell Bontemps:

Thompson, John Downing. "African Americans and Education: A Study of Arna Bontemps."  Syracuse University Library Associates Courier 33, [paper 342] (2001): 77-99. Print.

Update 11/17/2015:

Arna Wendell Bontemps is mentioned in a piece I wrote on Fisk University:

Fenton, Michele. "Fisk University." African American Leadership: A Concise Reference Guide. Ed. Tyson King-Meadows. [Santa Barbara, CA]: Mission Bell Media, 2015. 93-94. Print.

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