Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Muskogee Public Library (Muskogee, Oklahoma)

The Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Muskogee Carnegie Library (now the Muskogee Public Library) was founded in 1913 in Muskogee, Oklahoma as the Muskogee Colored Library. The library was built through the efforts of the Frances Harper Club and served the African American residents of Muskogee. The library was housed in the Love Building until 1916 when it was moved to South 2nd Street.  In 1920, the library moved to 503 North Fourth Street (this building was also the meetinghouse for the Negro Women's Federated Club). It became a branch of  the Muskogee Carnegie Library in 1921. In 1931, the library was renamed the Phyllis Wheatley Branch. Librarians at the Phyllis Wheatley Branch included Ethel M. Tucker and Belzora A. Malvin.

In 1946, the branch moved a third time. The library's new location was 627 North Third Street (during World War II, this building was used by the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) -- a service organization founded in 1941 as an initiative encouraged by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to inspire morale among personnel in the armed forces). The Phyllis Wheatley Branch continued providing library services until it ceased operations in 1972. After the Phyllis Wheatley Branch closed, its materials were transferred to the newly built Muskogee Public Library. The former Phyllis Wheatley Branch  is now the Martin Luther King Community Center and in 2010 became the headquarters of the Muskogee Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

*Update 01/07/2013:

Note: The Muskogee Carnegie Library opened in 1914 at 401 E. Broadway (corner of Broadway and D Streets) with a grant of $60,000 from Andrew Carnegie (his brother-in-law, Henry D. Whitfield, served as the library's architect). The Muskogee Carnegie Library remained in operation until 1972 when it was replaced with a new building, the Muskogee Public Library, at 801 W. Okmulgee Street (the new building was built with a grant of $465,000 from the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA); the city contributed an additional $750,000). The Carnegie building is now the headquarters for the Ark of Faith Foundation, Inc. 

See related post: Judith Carter Horton and the Excelsior Library of Guthrie, Oklahoma.

*Update 04/13/2013:

The Muskogee Cimeter was a newspaper created for the African American residents of Muskogee, Oklahoma. This newspaper is briefly mentioned in a post made by Angela Y. Walton-Raji on April 9, 2013 on her blog, The African-Native American Genealogy Blog:

Old Muskogee Newspaper Reveals Indian Freedmen Population. Greater Need for Study Emerges

Sources: "Muskogee Public Library." OLA Celebrates the Oklahoma Centennial. Oklahoma Library Association, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2010. ; Totten, Herman L. "Put Sinews in the Wings of the Eagle." The Black Librarian in America. Ed. E.J. Josey. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1977. 216-217. Print.. ; Spaulding, Cathy. "NAACP, Ministers Union Began Management of King Center." Muskogee Phoenix 20 Sept. 2010: n.pag. Web. 25 Sept. 2010. ; "Muskogee Public Library." Muskogee Public Library - Libraries on Waymarking.com. Waymarking, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2010. ; Robbins, Louise S. The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2001. 39-40. Print. ;  Reports of the Oklahoma Library Commission, Sept. 15, 1919-June 30, 1920 and Survey of Public Libraries of Oklahoma. Oklahoma City: Warden Company, 1922. 12-13, 20, 28-29, 43, 69-70, 86, 96-97. Print. ; Library Services and Construction Act: A Compilation As of February 11, 1964, of the Library Services Act (p. L. 597, 84th Congress; 20 U.s.c. Chap. 16) As Amended by P. L. 896, 84th Congress; P. L. 86-679; P. L. 87-688; and P. L. 88-269; and As Renamed the Library Services and Construction Act. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, 1964. Print. ; Bell, Roger. Images of America: Muskogee. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2011. 60. Print. ; "Carnegie Libraries: Oklahoma's Treasures." Trustee Talk (Oklahoma Dept. of Libraries, Office of Library Development) 8 (Sept. 2004): 12. Print. ; Ark of Faith Foundation, Inc. Ark of Faith, 2012. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. ; Eastern Oklahoma District Library System - Muskogee Public Library. Muskogee Public Library, n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. ; "The Circulating Library the Only One of Its Kind in the State." Muskogee Cimeter (Muskogee, Indian Territory, Oklahoma) 29 Jan. 1909:4. Print.