Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vivian Davidson Hewitt: First African American President of the Special Libraries Association (SLA)

Vivian Ann Davidson Hewitt (born February 17, 1920 in New Castle, Pennsylvania) was the first African American president of the Special Libraries Association (1978-1979). Ms. Hewitt received her library science degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Sciences in 1944 (the school is now the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences).  While in library school, she did her library practicum at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture).

Vivian Ann Davidson Hewitt was also the first African American librarian to work at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1943-1949). In addition, Ms. Hewitt is believed to be Pittsburgh's first African American librarian. Ms. Hewitt was also an instructor at the library school at Atlanta University from 1949 until 1952 (Atlanta University is now Clark-Atlanta University).

After leaving Atlanta University, Ms. Hewitt worked as a researcher for the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company (1953-1955) and as chief librarian for the library of the Rockefeller Foundation (1955-1963). She later became chief librarian of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York City (1963-1983). In 2010, she published her autobiography, "The One and Only: Vivian Davidson Hewitt."  In May of 2011, Ms. Hewitt gave a lecture about her life, career and autobiography at the Library of Congress. She and her husband, John Hewitt, are the founders of the Hewitt Art Collection which is housed in the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Update 07/30/2012:

To view Ms. Hewitt's lecture given at the Library of Congress, click on the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR1hQzpYqec

Sources: Hewitt, Vivian Davidson. "A Special Librarian by Design." Special Libraries 62.2 (1971): 71-81. Print. ; Hewitt, Vivian D. "Special Libraries, Librarians and the Continuing Education of Black People." What Black Librarians Are Saying. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1972. 268-274. Print. ; "Past Presidents- Special Libraries Association." Special Libraries Association, n.d. Web. 25 Sep. 2010. ; "Vivian Hewitt Biography." The History Makers. Web. 19 Dec. 2010. ; "Documenting Our History." Black Caucus of the American Library Association Newsletter 39.1 (2010): 12. Print. ; "Carnegie Mellon's Notable Alumni." Carnegie Mellon Alumni. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University, n.d. 5. Web. 19 Dec. 2010. ; Jordan, Casper Leroy and E.J. Josey. "A Chronology of Events in Black Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Martha DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 13. Print. ; Hewitt, Vivian D, and Ann Rothstein-Segan. The One and Only: Vivian Ann Davidson Hewitt. San Francisco, Calif.: Blurb, 2010. Print. ; "Vivian Davidson." United States Census, 1940. FamilySearch.org, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. ; Bobinski, George S. Libraries and Librarianship: Sixty Years of Challenge and Change, 1945-2005. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2007. 100. Print.

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