Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Diplomat and the Librarian: George Washington Buckner and Anna Cowen Buckner

Dr. George Washington Buckner (1855-1943), a former slave and a native of Greensburg, Kentucky, served as the U.S. Diplomat to Liberia from 1913-1915. He received his appointment from President Woodrow Wilson. In addition, Dr. Buckner was a physician and a teacher, and a graduate of the Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University) and the Indiana Eclectic Medical College. He wrote a column for the Indiana Democrat called "Colored Folks". 

His wife, Anna Cowen Buckner, a former school teacher and an 1893 graduate of Fisk University, began her library career at the Cherry Street Branch of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library in 1922. The third Carnegie library built in Evansville, Indiana, the Cherry Street Branch provided library services to African Americans from 1914 until its closure in 1954. The library was located on Cherry Street, the same street on which the Cherry Street Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), co-founded by Dr. Buckner, was located. In the same vicinity was McFarland Baptist Church (corner of 5th and Cherry Streets), where Dr. Buckner had an office for his medical practice. This same church was where the dedication ceremony for the Cherry Street Branch Library was held (Rachel Davis Harris of the Eastern Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library was the keynote speaker). The library and church were torn down in the 1970s to make way for the expansion of Wellborn Baptist Hospital.

Dr. Buckner passed away in 1943 and is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana (his gravestone incorrectly shows his death date as 1941). Mrs. Buckner passed away in 1948.

Update 2/23/2012:

The Buckners' son, George Buckner, Jr., was a lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II.  George Jr. was stationed at Fort Huachuca in Cochise County, Arizona, and in 1943, he married Patricia Thompson. Ms. Thompson was once a librarian at the Cherry Street Branch of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library in Evansville, Indiana, and at the Army Camp in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (See: "Derbyville." The Evansville Argus 16 Apr. 1943: 6. Print).

Fort Huachuca was the base where the 10th Calvary Regiment of the United States Army was stationed. The 10th Calvary Regiment was one of several all-black army regiments authorized by the United States Congress in 1866 to serve in the Western United States. Native American tribes living in the area referred to these regiments as the "Buffalo Soldiers" because their bravery, fighting skills, and curly hair reminded them of the buffalo that roamed the lands of the Western United States.

YouTube has a short video on the Buffalo Soldiers that were stationed at Fort Huachuca. Click on the link below to view:

See related post: Article on Evansville, Indiana's Former African American Library Branch

Sources: "News of Indiana Libraries." Library Occurrent 6.6 (1922): 271. Print. ; "Indianapolis Visitor Honored with Party." Chicago Defender 3 Sept. 1938, natl. ed.: 13. Print. ; "Education and the Professions." This Far by Faith: Black Hoosier Heritage. Indianapolis: Indiana Humanities Council, n.d. 19-20. Print. ; "Dr. George Washington Buckner." The Evansville Boneyard. University of Southern Indiana, Feb. 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; Kestenbaum, Lawrence, comp. "Index to Politicians: Buckner." The Political Graveyard, 5 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; "Anna Buckner." Family Search, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; Hite, Edith E. "Evansville, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 4 Aug. 1928: 7. Print. ; "Dr. Buckner May Resign: Colored Minister to Liberia Wishes to Educate His Children." Indianapolis Recorder 19 June 1915: 1. Print. ; "Ex-Minister Revisits City: Former Minister to Liberia Believes Italy Riding to Fall." Indianapolis Recorder 10 Aug. 1935: 1. Print. ; Fenton, Michele T. "Way Down Yonder at the Cherry Street Branch: A Short History of Evansville's Negro Library." Indiana Libraries 30.2 (2012): 38-39. Print. ;  "Class of 1893." Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee: 1902-1903. Nashville: Brandon Printing Co., 1903. 84. Print. ; "Buckner, George Washington." The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Ed. John E. Kleber. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 1992. 136. Print. ; Harden, Cleona. "Evansville, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 5 June 1965: 13. Print. ; "George Washington Buckner (1855- )." U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, n.d. Web. 10 May 2011. ; "Dr. George W. Buckner Dies at Residence After Long Illness." The Evansville Argus 20 Feb. 1943: 1. Print. ; "Derbyville." The Evansville Argus 16 Apr. 1943: 6. Print.

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog today and I'm really glad that I did. I am an African American librarian and am enjoying learning about the history of librarianship in our community.