Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dulcina DeBerry and the Huntsville Public Library (Huntsville, Alabama)

Dulcina DeBerry (1878-1969), a native of York, South Carolina, was the first African American librarian in Madison County, Alabama. Prior to her library career, Ms. DeBerry was a teacher in Kings Mountain, North Carolina and in Talladega, Alabama. She was a graduate of Shaw University of Raleigh, North Carolina.

In May 1940, Ms. DeBerry opened the first library in Huntsville, Alabama for African Americans and served as its director for eleven years. The library was located inside the Lakeside Methodist Church and remained at the church until it was moved to the Winston Street School. The library was named the Winston Street Branch Library and became a part of the Huntsville Public Library (now Huntsville-Madison County Public Library) in 1943. In 1947, the branch was renamed the Dulcina DeBerry Library.

When Ms. DeBerry left in 1951, Fannie Jackson, the assistant librarian, was promoted to director. In 1956, Rev. H.P. Snodgrass became director. In 1965, the Huntsville Public Library began integrating its library services and all citizens of any race were allowed access. The Dulcina DeBerry Branch ceased operations in 1968.

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library has a picture of the Dulcina DeBerry Library in its digitial collection (click on the link below to view):

After leaving the Dulcina DeBerry Library, Ms. DeBerry left Huntsville, Alabama and settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. She passed away in 1969 at the age of 91 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Huntsville Historical Collection's website has two pictures and a biography of Ms. DeBerry:

See related posts: Mattie Herd Roland and the Booker T. Washington Branch Library (Birmingham, AL) ; and Sadie Peterson Delaney and the U.S. Veterans' Administration Hospital (Tuskegee, Alabama).

Sources: Graham, Patterson Toby. A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama's Public Libraries, 1900-1965. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002. 49-56, 60, 69. Print. ; Battles, David M. The History of Public Library Access for African Americans in the South or, Leaving Behind the Plow. Lanham: Scarecrow, 2009. 83-84. Print. ; Torrence, Missouri L. Dulcina DeBerry: Door Opener. Huntsville: Golden Rule, 1996. Print. ; Maulsby, Ann Geiger. "The Dulcina DeBerry Library." The Huntsville Historical Review 22.2 (1996): 20-25. Print.

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