Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Charlotte Andrews Stephens, Arkansas Librarian and Teacher

Charlotte Andrews Stephens, the first African American teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas, was a high school librarian and a junior college librarian. She was also the first woman in Arkansas to have a school named after her.

Sources: "Charlotte Andrews Stephens (1854-1951)." The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Central Arkansas Library System, 24 Nov. 2008. Web. 1 Jan. 2011. ; Mack, Thura. "Charlotte Andrews Stephens." Notable Black American Women. Ed. Jessie Carney Smith. Book II. Detroit: Gale Research, 1996. 616-617. Print. ; Gordon, Fon Louise. "Black Women in Arkansas." Pulaski County Historical Review 35 (1987): 26-28. Print. ; Kennan, Clara B. "The First Black Teacher in Little Rock." Arkansas Historical Quarterly 9 (1950): 194-204. Print.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mattie Herd Roland and the Booker T. Washington Branch Library (Birmingham, AL)

Mattie Herd Roland was the first African American librarian in Alabama. She received her library training at the Louisville Free Public Library's Western Colored Branch in Louisville, Kentucky in 1917. Ms. Roland began her library career as head of the Booker T. Washington Branch of the Birmingham Public Library  in Birmingham, Alabama in 1918. The Booker T. Washington Branch provided library services to Birmingham's African American residents and remained in operation for 38 years before being replaced with the Smithfield Branch in 1956. The Smithfield Branch is still in operation today.

See related posts: Dulcina DeBerry and the Huntsville Public Library (Huntsville, Alabama); Sadie Peterson Delaney and the U.S. Veterans' Administration Hospital (Tuskegee, Alabama); and Librarian Education: Louisville Free Public Library.

Sources: King, Annie Greene. "Library Service and the Black Librarian in Alabama." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 21. Print. ; Graham, Toby Patterson. A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002. 14, 172-173. Print. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2009. 50. Print.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Robert Robinson Branch of the Alexandria Public Library (Alexandria, VA) and the 1939 Sit-Down Strike

The Robert Robinson Branch of the Alexandria Public Library was built in 1940 in response to "The 1939 Sit-Down Strike."  The strike began when five African American men entered the Barrett Branch on Friday, August 21, 1939 in an attempt to receive service from the library (the Barrett Branch was for whites only). When service was denied, the men refused to leave and were arrested. A law suit was filed but was later dismissed. The Robert Robinson Branch ceased operation in the 1960s as a result of integration. The branch is now part of the Alexandria Black History Museum.

Sources: "1939 Alexandria Library Sit-in." Alexandria Library. Alexandria Library, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2011. ; "The History of the Alexandria Black History Museum: The Sit-Down Strike." Alexandria Black History Museum. City of Alexandria, 1995-2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2011. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2009. 82-83. Print.

Update 10/15/2012:

You can read more about the Robert Robinson Branch at the following link  from the City of Alexandria, Virginia website:

http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/blackhistory/BHLessonPlanSitDownStrike.pdf

Update 12/11/2012:

Several sit-ins took place at libraries in the Southern United States during the pre-Civil Rights Era. The most famous is the "Tougaloo Nine Sit-in",  which took place at the main branch of the Jackson, Mississippi Municipal Library in Jackson, Mississippi on March 27, 1961:

The Tougaloo Nine and the Sit-in at the Jackson Mississippi Municipal Library
http://www.littleknownblacklibrarianfacts.blogspot.com/2012/02/tougaloo-nine-and-sit-in-at-jackson.html

Update 08/18/2014:

There are plans to have a celebration marking the 75th anniversary of "The 1939 Sit-Down" strike on August 21, 2014 at the Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Public Library in Alexandria, Virginia. The following link is to an article written by Mary Ann Barton of the West Alexandria Patch about the celebration:

http://patch.com/virginia/west-end-alexandria/alexandria-commemorate-75th-anniversary-1939-library-sit/#.U_KvHhcg9jo


Also, Larry T. Nix has posted a piece relating to the celebration of the "1939 Sit-Down Strike" on his blog, "The Library History Buff Blog". Below is a link to his post:

http://libraryhistorybuff.blogspot.com/2014/08/75th-alexandria-va-library-sit-in-of.html


The following resolution was introduced earlier this year by the Virginia General Assembly:

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+ful+HJ418+pdf

Update 08/21/2014:

Tom Joyner's "Little Known Black History Fact" column on Black America Web includes an article by D.L. Chandler on "The 1939 Sit-Down Strike". Click on the link below to view:

http://blackamericaweb.com/2014/08/21/little-known-black-history-fact-alexandria-library-sit-in/

Update 11/03/2014:

 Some attempts by African Americans to integrate segregated libraries were met with violence. For example, on September 15, 1963, two African American ministers were attacked by a mob when they tried to enter the Anniston Public Library in Anniston, Alabama:

Integration and the Anniston Public Library, Anniston, Alabama
http://www.littleknownblacklibrarianfacts.blogspot.com/2014/11/integration-and-anniston-public-library.html

Update 11/04/2014:

  The November/December 2014 issue of American Libraries features a short piece on the 75th anniversary of the sit-in at the Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Public Library in Alexandria, Virginia. The citation is below:

"Library Marks 75th Anniversary of First Sit-In." American Libraries 45.11/12 (Nov./Dec. 2014): 17. Print.

Update 11/06/2014:

    The sit-in at the Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Public Library in Alexandria, Virginia is mentioned in the following master's thesis:

Cutter, Jamie Irene. Getting by at the Benjamin Mays Black Branch: Library Access for African Americans in Jim Crow South Carolina, 1940-1971. MLIS thesis. San Jose State University, 2011. 54. Pdf.

Update 08/22/2015:

A presentation on marketing the African American history of libraries was given at the 9th National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) in St. Louis, Missouri on August 6th by Rose Dawson of the Alexandria Public Library. The highlight of the presentation was the 75th anniversary celebration of the 1939 sit-in at the Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Public Library:

Dawson, Rose. "Marketing the African American History of Your Library". 9th National Conference of African American Librarians (Program Booklet). St. Louis, Mo.: Black Caucus of the American Library Association, 2015. 42. Print.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

John F. N. Wilkinson and the Law Library of Congress

John Francis Nicholas Wilkinson (1832-1912), a native of Washington, D.C., was assistant librarian in the Law Library of Congress from 1857-1912. He passed away on October 5, 1912 in Washington, D.C.

See related posts: William Henry Smith: Librarian for the U.S. House of Representatives ;  Allen Mercer Daniel: Howard University School of Law Librarian and Member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) ; African American Officers of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) ; and African American State Law Librarians of West Virginia.

Sources: Dawson, Alma. "Celebrating African American Librarians and Librarianship." Library Trends 49.1 (2000): 62. Print. ; "Library of Congress - John F.N. Wilkinson." United States Civil Service Commission. Official Register of the United States Containing a List of Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military, and Naval Service on the 1st of July 1883, Together with a List of Ships and Vessels Belonging to the United States. Vol. 1. Washington: G.P.O., 1883. 15. Print. ; Library of Congress. Report of the Librarian of Congress and Report of the Superintendent of the Library Building and Grounds for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1912. Washington: G.P.O., 1912. 13. Print. ; "John Francis Nicholas Wilkinson." District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964. FamilySearch.org, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. ; Render, S. L. "Black Presence in the Library of Congress." Library Lectures: Numbers Twenty-One Through Twenty-Eight : September 1972 - April 1974. Ed. Caroline Wire. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Library, 1975. 63-79. 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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dryades Branch of the New Orleans Public Library (New Orleans, Louisiana) : A Colored Carnegie Library

In 1915, the Dryades Branch of the New Orleans Public Library was established at 1924 Philip Street to serve the African American citizens of New Orleans. Businessman and library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) gave $25,000 for the branch's construction at the urging of James Hardy Dillard (1856-1940), a professor at Tulane University and an alumnus of Washington and Lee University (Dillard University was named for him). William R. Burk (1887-1961) served as the library's architect (Burk's firm is still in business today and is now called Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc.). A dedication program for the Dryades Branch was held on Saturday, October 24, 1915. Attendees of the program were Henry Gill (City Librarian), Frank B. Smith, James Madison Vance, Dr. Robert E. Jones, Dr. James T. Newman, Sylvania F. Williams, Walter Cohen, Albert Workman, and Rev. J.L. Burrell.

The Dryades Branch Library was well-received.  In 1938, 1,300 children participated in the branch's Book Week Program. Famous visitors to the library included Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), and Paul Robeson (1898-1976), singer, athlete, actor, author, and civil rights leader. Librarians that worked at the branch included Delia Louisa Allen, Adelia Trent, and Anita L. Johnson.

The Dryades Branch remained in operation until 1965 (the building suffered damage from Hurricane Betsy). After remaining empty and unused for several years, the building was purchased by the Dryades Street YMCA and repurposed for use for community activities and programs. It has been declared a historic landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission of New Orleans, Louisiana (near the bottom of  the "Historic Landmarks" section of commission's website is a list of current historic landmarks).

See related post: Marcus Bruce Christian (1900-1976), Louisiana Librarian

Sources: Spooner, Gloria. "Establishment of African American Public Library Service in Louisiana." Louisiana Libraries 63.3 (2001): 23-25. Print. ; "1,300 Race Children Attend Book Week Program at Library." The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 26 Nov. 1938: 18. Print. ; Smith, Norman R. Footprints of Black Louisiana. [Bloomington, IN?]: Xlibris Corp., 2010. 96-97. Print. ; Gunn, Alistair J. Prof. Dr. James Hardy Dillard, 1856-1940: Towards A Postal History Biography. N.p.: www.lulu.com, 2009. Print. ; "J.H. Dillard: End of An Epoch." The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 17 Aug. 1940: 6. Print. ; White, Claytee D. "Robeson, Paul (1898-1976)." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Dagbovie, Pero Gaglo. "Woodson, Carter (1875-1950)." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Martinez, Eligio Jr. "Dillard University." Blackpast.org, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Historic Landmarks." Historic District Landmarks Commission. City of New Orleans, 2014. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Home." BKI: Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc., 2012. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; "Foto's Folly Theatre." The Herald (New Orleans, La.) 1920 Dec. 16: 5. Print. ; "New Orleans Dryades Branch. 1920-1928 Philip Street, New Orleans. 1915. Job no. 227." William R. Burk Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive Collection 42, Project Drawings, Specifications, ca. 1915-1977 (Finding Aid). [New Orleans, La.]: Tulane University, n.d. 2. Pdf. ; "Hurricane Betsy - September 6-13, 1965." National Weather Service, Weather Prediction Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.d. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; CreoleGen. "The Right to Read... The Dryades Street Library (1915-1965)." CreoleGen, 2014 Mar. 22. Web. 2014 Nov. 9. ; Horowitz, Andy. "Hurricane Betsy and the Politics of Disaster in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, 1965-1967." Journal of Southern History 80.4 (Nov. 2014): 893-934. Print.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Blyden Branch Library (Norfolk, Virginia)

In 1921, the Norfolk Public Library established the Blyden Branch Library to serve the African American citizens of Norfolk, Virginia.

Sources: Campbell, Lucy B. "Black Librarians in Virginia." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 135. Print. ; "History of Blyden Branch Library." Norfolk Public Library, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Anne Spencer and the Dunbar Branch of the George M. Jones Memorial Library (Lynchburg, Virginia)

Anne Spencer was Lynchburg's first African American librarian. She was the first librarian of the Dunbar Branch of the George M. Jones Memorial Library, where she served from 1923 until 1945. The branch was located inside Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and served the African American residents of Lynchburg. Ms. Spencer was also a poet and part of the Harlem Renaissance. She passed away in 1975.

Sources: Wright, Joyce C. " Black Librarians as Creative Writers." The Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 254-256. Print. ; Shockley, Anne Allen. "Librarians, Archivists, and Writers: A Perspective." The Black Librarian in America Revisited. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1994. 322. Print. ; Morrison, Ken. "A History of the Lynchburg Public Library." Virginia Libraries 52.4 (2006):2-3. Print. ; Doyle, Patricia K. "The Lynchburg Public Library Celebrates Its Fortieth Birthday." Lynch's Ferry (Fall 2005): 1. Print. ; Smith, Jessie Carney. "Black Women, Civil Rights, & Libraries." Untold Stories: Civil Rights, Libraries, and Black Librarianship. Ed. John Mark Tucker. Champaign: Board of Trustees of U of Illinois, 1998. 142-143. Print. ; Parkhurst, Erin. "Literary Luminary: Celebrating Poet Anne Spencer." Virginia Living 9.2 (2011): 17. Print.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

William Henry Smith: Librarian for the U.S. House of Representatives, 1881-1891

On December 9, 1881, William Henry Smith (1833-1903) was named the librarian for the U.S. House of Representatives. A native of Washington, D.C., Mr. Smith held this position until his retirement in 1891. William Henry Smith passed away on November 16, 1903 in Washington, D.C.

See related posts: Allen Mercer Daniel: Howard University School of Law Librarian and Member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) ; John F.N. Wilkinson and the Law Library of Congress.

Sources: "Noted Negro Is Dead: William H. Smith Was Ex-Librarian of National House of Representatives." New York Times 17 Nov. 1903: 9. Print. ; "William Henry Smith Is Named House Librarian, Dec. 9, 1881." Todaysdrum.com. Today's Drum, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. ; Glass, Andrew. "William Henry Smith Is Named House Librarian, December 9, 1881." Politico.com. Politico, 9 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 Dec. 2010. ; "The Appointment of William H. Smith As House Librarian December 09, 1881." Historical Highlights. Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2010. ; 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. ; "William Henry Smith." District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964. FamilySearch.org, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dulcina DeBerry and the Huntsville Public Library (Huntsville, Alabama)

Dulcina DeBerry (1878-1969), a native of York, South Carolina, was the first African American librarian in Madison County, Alabama. Prior to her library career, Ms. DeBerry was a teacher in Kings Mountain, North Carolina and in Talladega, Alabama. She was a graduate of Shaw University of Raleigh, North Carolina.

In May 1940, Ms. DeBerry opened the first library in Huntsville, Alabama for African Americans and served as its director for eleven years. The library was located inside the Lakeside Methodist Church and remained at the church until it was moved to the Winston Street School. The library was named the Winston Street Branch Library and became a part of the Huntsville Public Library (now Huntsville-Madison County Public Library) in 1943. In 1947, the branch was renamed the Dulcina DeBerry Library.

When Ms. DeBerry left in 1951, Fannie Jackson, the assistant librarian, was promoted to director. In 1956, Rev. H.P. Snodgrass became director. In 1965, the Huntsville Public Library began integrating its library services and all citizens of any race were allowed access. The Dulcina DeBerry Branch ceased operations in 1968.

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library has a picture of the Dulcina DeBerry Library in its digitial collection (click on the link below to view):

http://digitalarchives.hmcpl.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15431coll1/id/70


After leaving the Dulcina DeBerry Library, Ms. DeBerry left Huntsville, Alabama and settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. She passed away in 1969 at the age of 91 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Huntsville Historical Collection's website has two pictures and a biography of Ms. DeBerry:

http://huntsvillehistorycollection.org/hh/index.php?title=Person:Dulcina_DeBerry

See related posts: Mattie Herd Roland and the Booker T. Washington Branch Library (Birmingham, AL) ; and Sadie Peterson Delaney and the U.S. Veterans' Administration Hospital (Tuskegee, Alabama).

Sources: Graham, Patterson Toby. A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002. 49-56, 60, 69. Print. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2009. 83-84. Print. ; Torrence, Missouri L. Dulcina DeBerry: Door Opener. Huntsville: Golden Rule, 1996. Print. ; Maulsby, Ann Geiger. "The Dulcina DeBerry Library." The Huntsville Historical Review 22.2 (1996): 20-25. Print.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

James D. Roberts and the Mt. Pleasant Library (Beech Settlement, Rush County, Indiana)

James D. Roberts was the earliest known African American male librarian to work in the state of Indiana. Although not formally trained, Mr. Roberts served as the first librarian of the Mt. Pleasant Library in Rush County from 1842 until 1843.  In operation from 1842 until 1867, the library was located inside the Mt. Pleasant A.M.E. Church and served the citizens of Rush County’s Beech Settlement. The Beech Settlement was a community settled by free African Americans who came North to Indiana from the southern United States.


Sources: O'Bryan, Ann. "Mt. Pleasant Library: Reading among African Americans in 19th Century Rush County." Black History News & Notes No. 102 (2005): 3-7. Print. ; Gibbs, Wilma L. "Mount Pleasant Library (Rush County, Ind.) Records, 1842-1869." Manuscript and Visual Collections Department, William Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society. Indiana Historical Society, 2 Dec. 2004. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. ; Vincent, Stephen A. Southern Seed, Northern , Soil: African-American Farm Communities in the Midwest, 1765-1900. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1999. 70-72, 75-76, 82, 105, 150, 159-161, 186, 195, 197, 219. Print. ; Thornbrough, Emma Lou. The Negro in Indiana: A Study of a Minority. Indianapolis : Indiana Historical Bureau, 1957. 171. Print.

Update 03/19/2013:

The Indiana Historical Society has digitized a copy of the records of the Mt. Pleasant Library. Click on the link below to view:

http://images.indianahistory.org/u?/V0002,1512

The Indiana Historical Society has also digitized a copy of the library's minute book:

http://images.indianahistory.org/u?/V0002,1380