Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue and the Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library

Reverend Thomas Fountain Blue (1866-1935), a native of Farmville, Virginia, was the first African American to head a public library branch in the United States. From 1905 until 1935, Rev. Blue was the head of the African American branches of the Louisville Free Public Library (the Western Colored Branch and the Eastern Colored Branch). In 1922, he became the first African American librarian to give a speech before the American Library Association.

During the 1921 Joint District Meeting of Indiana and Kentucky Librarians and Trustees held at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, Rev. Blue and his assistant Rachel D. Harris gave attendees a tour of the library's Western Colored Branch. In 1927, Rev. Blue organized the First Negro Library Conference held March 15-18 at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia (the institute is now Hampton University; Rev. Blue was an alumnus). In 1928, Rev. Blue was one of several African American attendees at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Library Association held in West Baden, Indiana. He passed away on November 10, 1935.

See related posts: ALA History: 1928 Annual Conference of the American Library Association, West Baden, Indiana ; Librarian Education: Louisville Free Public Library ; and Rachel Davis Harris and the Colored Branches of the Louisville Free Public Library.

Update 04/29/2012:

In 1922, at the Annual Meeting of the American Library Association in Detroit, Michigan,  Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue presented a paper "Work with the Negro Roundtable". In his paper, Blue talks about the librarian training class he started for African Americans at the Western Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. The training class was the first library training program offered in the South for African Americans, and was in operation from 1912 until 1931. Blue's paper was published in the September 1922 issue of The Southern Workman (v.51 , no. 9, p. 437-438).

Update 03/09/2013:

The following article by Reinette Jones contains a resolution written for Rev. Blue that was presented at the 2003 ALA Annual Conference:

Jones, Reinette F. "Spotlight: Reverend Thomas Fountain Blue." Kentucky Libraries 67.4 (2003): 6-7. Print.

You can also find the article here (cited as Library Faculty Publications 67):

Rev. Blue's papers have been digitized and are now available online:

Update 5/26/2014:

Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue is briefly mentioned in an I wrote an article on Lillian Haydon Childress Hall. The article was featured in the latest issue of Indiana Libraries (v. 33, no. 1). The link is below:

Fenton, Michele T. "Stepping Out on Faith: Lillian Haydon Childress Hall, Pioneer Black Librarian." Indiana Libraries 33.1 (2014): 5-11. Print."

Update 8/10/2014:

Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue gave an address at the opening ceremony of the Howard Branch of the Chattanooga Public Library in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The ceremony was held on October 11, 1913. The Howard Branch was established to provide library services to Chattanooga's African American residents.

See post: The Howard Branch of the Chattanooga Public Library (Chattanooga,Tennessee) 

Sources: Jones, Reinette. Library Service to African Americans in Kentucky, from the Reconstruction Era to the 1960s. Jefferson: McFarland, 2002. 51, 53-57, 77-78, 84, 88-89. Print.  ; Spradling, Mary Mace. "Black Librarians in Kentucky." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 41. Print. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access African Americans in the South or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2008. 33-34, 44, 50, 54, 60, 70, 142. Print. ; Musmann, Klaus. "The Ugly Side of Librarianship: Segregation in Library Services from 1900 to 1950." Untold Stories: Civil Rights, Libraries, and Black Librarianship. Ed. John Mark Tucker. Champaign: Board of Trustees U of Illinois, 1998. 83-84, 86. Print. ; Jordan, Casper LeRoy. "African American Forerunners in Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Martha DeLoach. 2nd Ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 28-29. Print. ; Dawson, Alma. "Celebrating African American Librarians and Librarianship." Library Trends 49.1 (2000): 56. Print. ; 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. 124-125. Print. ; Jones, Reinette and Alonzon Hill. "Thomas Fountain Blue, Sr." Notable Kentucky African Americans Database: Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries. University of Kentucky Libraries, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. ; Sinnette, Elinor D. V. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile & Collector: A Biography. New York: New York Public Library, 1989. 154. Print. ; "Library Opened: Colored People of Louisville Looked After." Indianapolis Recorder 2 June 1906: 1. Print. ; "Free Libraries in Louisville: Kentucky City Leads Country Along This Line - How They Benefit the Public." Indianapolis Recorder 25 Jul. 1914: 1. Print. ; "West Baden, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 9 June 1928: 7. Print. ; Curtis, Florence Rising. "Colored Librarians in Conference." Library Journal 52.8 (1927): 408. Print. ; Joint District Meeting Indiana and Kentucky Librarians and Trustees, Main Library, Thursday, March 10, 1921, Louisville, Kentucky. Program. [Louisville: Louisville Free Public Library, 1921]. Print. ; "Louisville." Library Occurrent 6.2 (1921): 80-81. Print. ; Brown, Beatrice S. Louisville's Historic Black Neighborhoods. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012. 104. Print. ; Librarianship in Gilded Age America: An Anthology of Writings, 1868-1901. Ed. Leonard Schlup and Stephen H. Pascen. Jefferson: McFarland, 2009. 322. Print. ; Potter, Joan. African American Firsts: Famous, Little Known, and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America. New York: Kensington, 2009. 34. Print. ; Blue, Thomas F. "A Successful Library Experiment." Opportunity 2.20 (1924): 244-246. Print. ; "American Library Association." The Southern Workman 55.11 (1926):486. Print. ; Blue, Thomas F. "Work with the Negro Roundtable." The Southern Workman 51.9 (1922):437-438. 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. ; Fenton, Michele T. "Stepping Out on Faith: Lillian Haydon Childress Hall, Pioneer Black Librarian." Indiana Libraries 33.1 (2014): 5-11. Print.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Willa Resnover and the Norwood Library (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Willa Resnover (1894-1978) was the earliest known African American librarian to work in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Although she had no formal library training, Ms. Resnover, a graduate of  Emmerich Manual High School and  Madame Blaker’s Teachers College (was also known as Teachers College of Indianapolis ; now the Butler University College of Education), served as the librarian for the Norwood Library, the first library in Indianapolis for African Americans. The library was housed inside the Norwood Boys’ Club on the city’s southeast side in the Norwood neighborhood. The Norwood Library was built in 1912 as a replacement for the Norwood School's  library collection which was lost in a fire in 1909 (the Norwood School was later known as Indianapolis Public School No. 64). Ada B. Harris, principal of the Norwood School, along with citizens and several organizations donated a total of 1,000 materials for the library's collection. Willa Resnover later married William Donaldson and taught school in Illinois in the cities of Carbondale and Cairo. She passed away in 1978.

*Note: The Norwood Library was an independent library. It was never part of the Indianapolis Public Library System.

See related posts: The Flanner Guild Deposit Station, Paul Laurence Dunbar Branch, Crispus Attucks Branch, and the George Washington Carver Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library (Indianapolis, Indiana) ; Lillian Sunshine Haydon Childress Hall: Pioneer in the History of Library Services to African Americans in Indiana ; and Hallie Beachem Brooks: Librarian, Professor, and Indiana Native.

Sources: “News of Indiana Libraries.” Library Occurrent 3.5 (1912): 96. Print. ; “Colored Library Opened in Norwood.” Indianapolis Recorder 28 Sept. 1912: 1. Print. ; “Norwood Library.” Indianapolis Recorder 6 May 1911: 1. Print. ; Ferguson, Earline Rae. “Indianapolis: Civic, Literary, and Mutual Aid Associations.” Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations. Ed. Nina Mjagkij. New York: Garland, 2001. 235. Print. ; “Norwood.” Indianapolis Recorder 10 Aug. 1912: 6. Print. ; “Norwood School Now Public School No. 64.” Indianapolis Recorder 12 Oct. 1912: 2. Print. ; “Progress of the Norwood Schools.” Indianapolis Recorder 21 June 1913: 7. Print. ; “United States Census, 1920.” FamilySearch 4 Oct. 2011. Web. ; Hine, Darlene Clark. Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997. 111-112. Print. ; “Playmates of School 19 Enjoy Home-coming, Impromptu Program.” Indianapolis Recorder 25 Sept. 1943: 5. Print. ; “Ethical Culture.” Indianapolis Recorder 9 Dec. 1916: 3. Print. ; “Local Social Events.” Indianapolis Recorder 18 Nov. 1916: 2. Print.  ; “Local News: Personal Mention.” Indianapolis Recorder 1 Aug. 1914: 8. Print. ; “Local News: Personal Mention.” Indianapolis Recorder 4 Apr. 1914: 8. Print. ; Gibbs, Wilma L. “June Resnover Curry Collection, 1905-1921 [Finding Aid].” Indiana Historical Society, 2 Feb. 1995. Pdf File. Web. 3 Jan. 2012. ; Blair, Francis G. “Illinois School Directory, 1922-1923.” Circular (Illinois. Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) 166 (1922): 71. Print.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

John Edward Bruce: Ex-Slave, Bibliophile, Historian, and Journalist

John Edward Bruce (1856-1924), a former slave, was a noted bibliophile, historian, and journalist. In 1911, he co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research with his friend and colleague Arthur Schomburg. Mr. Bruce attended Howard University, was a member of the Republican National Committee’s Literary Bureau, the Men’s Sunday Club, the Bethel Literary and Historical Association, the American Negro Academy, and once worked for The New York Times. In addition, he was a member of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and founded newspapers such as The Argus Weekly (Washington, D.C.), The Sunday Item (Norfolk, Va.), The Republican (Norfolk, Va.), The Grit (Washington, D.C.), and The Weekly Standard (Yonkers, N.Y.). He was known in the literary world as “Bruce Grit” and wrote for such papers as The African Times and Orient Review, The Negro World, The Albany Argus, and The Buffalo Express. John Edward Bruce passed away in 1924 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Yonkers, New York.

See related posts:  Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, 1874-1938: Noted Bibliophile, Collector, Curator, and Scholar and The Bethel Literary and Historical Association.

Sources: Crowder, Ralph L. John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-Trained Historian of the African Diaspora. New York: New York UP, 2004. Print. ; Seraile, William. Bruce Grit: The Black Nationalist Writings of John Edward Bruce. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2003. Print. ; Sinnette, Elinor D. V. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile & Collector: A Biography. New York : New York Public Library, 1989. 28-30, 36-37, 61, 73-74, 206. Print. ; Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of Black History. Ed. Elinor D. V. Sinnette, W. Paul Coates, and Thomas C. Battle. Washington, D.C.: Howard UP, 1990. 10, 33-34, 38-39, 42, 47, 52, 69. Print. ; Anderson, Sarah A. "'The Place to Go': The 135th Street Branch Library and the Harlem Renaissance." Library Quarterly 73.4 (2003): 414. Print.