Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lucille Smith and the Ballard Carnegie Library (Seattle, Washington)

In 1942, Lucille Smith (later Lucille Smith Thompson) became the first African American to receive an undergraduate degree in librarianship from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Born in 1919 in Lewiston, Montana to Martin and Emma Riley Smith, Lucille Smith was the sister of Alma Smith Jacobs - the first African American to serve as state librarian for Montana.

While in library school, Ms. Smith became the first African American library science student to do a library practicum at the Ballard Carnegie Library in Seattle, Washington. The Ballard Carnegie Library was built with a grant of $15,000 from Andrew Carnegie and was in operation from 1904 until 1963 (it became a branch of the Seattle Public Library in 1907). George Hitchcock served as the first librarian. When the building ceased operation as a library, it became an antiques store, then later a restaurant (Kangaroo & Kiwi). The building is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places.

In 1945, Lucille Smith married Morrell Thompson. She later helped organize libraries in Idaho and Montana, and was a school librarian and French teacher at Browning High School in Browning, Montana. In 1964, Lucille Smith Thompson was hired as a reference librarian at Montana State University-Bozeman. In 1970, she and her sister Alma co-wrote The Negro in Montana, 1800-1945.  In 1985, Thompson retired from Montana State University-Bozeman after 21 years of service. Lucille Smith Thompson passed away on February 7, 1996 in Bozeman, Montana.

Note: Emma Riley Smith, mother of Lucille Smith Thompson and Alma Smith Jacobs, was a well-known quilter. See:

"Churchwoman: Emma Riley Smith." African American Women Confront the West: 1600 to 2000. Ed. Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2003. 132-135.Print.

Hanshew, Annie. Border to Border: Historic Quilts and Quiltmakers of Montana. Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2009. 116-117. Print.

*Update 12/16/2012:

The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has a video on YouTube giving a brief history of the Ballard Carnegie Library:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeX4YBMUAGg

*Update 01/07/2013:

Larry T. Nix recently added a post, "Andrew Carnegie and A Library Fire in Seattle", to his Library History Buff Blog. The Ballard Carnegie Library is briefly mentioned:

Library History Buff Blog: Andrew Carnegie and A Library Fire in Seattle (posted by Larry T. Nix on Jan. 6, 2013)
http://libraryhistorybuff.blogspot.com/2013/01/andrew-carnegie-and-library-fire-in.html


Sources: "Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950." FamilySearch.org, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. ; "Obituaries - Lucille W. Thompson." Great Falls Tribune 10 February 1996: 2B. Print. ; "Obituaries - Lucille W. Thompson." Bozeman Daily Chronicle 8 February 1996: 6. Print. ; "United States Census, 1930." FamilySearch.org, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. ; Jordan, Casper LeRoy and E.J. Josey. "A Chronology of Events in Black Librarianship." Handbook of Black Librarianship. Ed. E.J. Josey and Marva L. DeLoach. 2nd ed. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2000. 8-9, 11. Print. ; Grant, George C. "Alma Jacobs Library Plaza, Great Falls Public Library, Great Falls Montana." In Honor of: Libraries Named for African Americans. Jonesboro: GrantHouse Publishers, 2011. 132. Print. ; Garner, Carla W. "Jacobs, Alma S. (1916-1997)." BlackPast.org. Black Past, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2010. ;  Wilma, David. "Ballard Branch, The Seattle Public Library." HistoryLink - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 5 July 2002. Web. 19 Dec. 2010. ; Henry, Mary T. "Gayton, Willetta Esther Riddle (1909-1991)."  HistoryLink - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2010. ; Bryan, Zachariah. "Finally, Ballard Carnegie Library Officially a Landmark." Ballard News-Tribune. 7 Nov. 2012: n.pag. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. ; Wilma, David. "Carnegie Free Library in Ballard Opens on June 24, 1904." HistoryLink - The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. 20 June 2002. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. ; "Kangaroo & Kiwi Eatery to Open in Old Carnegie Library." Eater.  13 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2012;  Rook, Anne-Marije. "The Old Carnegie Building Welcomes New Tenant: Kangaroo & Kiwi Pub to Move into Ground Floor Space." Ballard News-Tribune 13 Jan. 2012: n.pag. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. ; "Churchwoman: Emma Riley Smith." African American Women Confront the West: 1600 to 2000. Ed. Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2003. 132-135. Print. ; Hanshew, Annie. Border to Border: Historic Quilts and Quiltmakers of Montana. Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2009. 116-117. Print. ; "To Replenish Library." The Seattle Star (Seattle,Washington) Night Ed. 21 Oct. 1904: 8. Print. ; "To Get Books." The Seattle Star (Seattle, Washington) Night Ed. 13 Dec. 1904: 3. Print.
 

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