Thursday, January 19, 2012

ALA History: 1928 Annual Conference of the American Library Association, West Baden, Indiana

The 1928 Annual Conference of the American Library Association was held May 27-June 2, 1928 in West Baden, Indiana at the West Baden Springs Hotel. Several notable African American librarians were attendance:

Etka F. Braboy Gaskin (Gary Public Library, Gary, Indiana)

Lillian Sunshine Haydon Childress Hall (Indianapolis Public Library, Indianapolis, Indiana)

Hallie Beachem Brooks (Indianapolis Public Library, Indianapolis, Indiana)

Othella Roberts (Evansville Public Library, Evansville, Indiana)

Elnora McIntyre Roy (Atlantic City Public Library, Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Rebecca M. Bond (Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Illinois)

Edward C. Williams (Howard University, Washington, D.C.)

Rev. Thomas Fountain Blue (Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville, Kentucky)

Rachel Davis Harris (Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville, Kentucky)

Sources: "West Baden, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 9 June 1928: 7. Print. ; Fiftieth Annual Meeting Advanced Attendance Register, May 27-June 2, 1928, West Baden, Indiana. [Chicago]: American Library Association, 1928: 4, 14. Print. ; "Annual Conference, 1920-1929." Past Annual Conferences, 1876-Present. American Library Association, 2012. Web. 4 Jan. 2012. ; "West Baden Conference May 28 to June 2." Library Occurrent 8.7 (1928): 255-256. Print. ; ALA Travel Committee. "ALA Conference 1928, West Baden, Indiana, May 28-June 2." Bulletin of the American Library Association 22.3 (1928): 46-50. Print.

*Update 06/24/2012:

 African Americans were not allowed to stay at the West Baden Springs Hotel because of the segregation laws of the time. The only hotel available for African American travelers was the Waddy Hotel and Spa. Built in 1913, the Waddy Hotel was owned and operated by George and Nannie Waddy, a prominent African American couple who resided in the town. There's also the possibility that African American conference attendees stayed in the homes of African Americans families in West Baden. This was a common practice during the Jim Crow Era. You can learn more about the Waddy Hotel and Spa from the following sources:

"Waddy Hotel." The Negro Motorist's Green Book. New York, NY: Victor H. Green & Co., 1949. 29. Print.

Lane, Laura. "The Waddy Hotel: Hotel Popular Resort for Blacks." Herald Times (Bloomington, Indiana). 28 July 1991: A1, A12.

Foster, Mark S. "In the Face of 'Jim Crow': Prosperous Blacks and Vacation, Travel and Outdoor Leisure, 1890-1945." Journal of Negro History. 84.2 (1999): 139. Print.

*Update 08/07/2012:

You can view a picture postcard of the Waddy Hotel at the website:

*Update 12/16/2012:

  The following article on the 1928 ALA Annual Conference was recently published in Indiana Libraries:

Preer, Jean and Lydia Spotts. "Meeting under the Dome: The ALA Holds its 1928 Conference in West Baden." Indiana Libraries. 31.2 (2012): 11-16. Print.

*Update 12/23/2012:

  See related post: ALA History: 1936 Meeting in Richmond, Virginia

*Update 04/18/2014:

I wrote an article on one of the conference attendees, Lillian Haydon Childress Hall (1899-1958). The article was published in the latest issue of Indiana Libraries (v. 33, no. 1). Click on the link below to access:

Fenton, Michele T. "Stepping Out on Faith: Lillian Haydon Childress Hall, Pioneer Black Librarian." Indiana Libraries 33.1 (2014): 5-11. Print.

*Update 05/27/2023:

 I created a bibliography of additional sources and facts relating to the 1928 ALA Annual Conference:

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