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:

Update 6/30/2022:

Vivian Davidson passed away at the age of 102 on May 29, 2022. A celebration of life service was held at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York on June 21, 2022

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., 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. ; Risen, Clay. "Vivian Hewitt, Who Amassed a Major Collection of Black Art, Dies at 102." New York Times June 22, 2022. Web, 30 June 2022. ; "The Gantt Center Mourns the Loss of Art Collector and Benefactor Vivian Davidson Hewitt." The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American History and Culture, n.d. Web. 30 June 2022.; "Calendar." The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 21 June 2022. Web. 30 June 2022.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Free Colored Carnegie Branch of the Lawson McGhee Library (Knoxville, Tennessee)

The Lawson McGhee Library of Knoxville, Tennessee opened the Free Colored Carnegie Branch in 1918 to provide services for the city's African American residents. Charles Warner Cansler, a noted African American teacher and lawyer, helped secure a gift of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie for the branch's construction. The Free Colored Carnegie Branch remained in operation until 1961. In 1930, the Lawson McGhee Library began offering services to African Americans at a second location, the Murphy Branch Library. The Murphy Branch is still in operation. The Lawson McGhee Library now serves as the central library for the Knox County Public Library System.

See related posts: The Negro Branch of the Carnegie Library of Nashville (Nashville, Tennessee) ; The Colored School Department of the Cossitt Library (Memphis, Tennessee); and The Howard Branch of the Chattanooga Public Library (Chattanooga, Tennessee).

Update 01/01/2013:
Charles Warner Cansler was the son of Laura Ann Scott Cansler. A native of North Carolina, Laura Ann Scott Cansler was the first African American teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1864, Mrs. Cansler opened the Burnside School, a school for African Americans. The school was named for General Ambrose Everett Burnside, a Civil War general and U.S. senator (Republican - Rhode Island).

See: McRary, Amy. "Laura Ann Cansler Was Knoxville's First African American Teacher." Knoxville News Sentinel, 29 Dec. 2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. ; Cotham, Steve. "Local Black History: Charles Warner Cansler." Knoxville News Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2012. ; "Burnside, Ambrose Everett (1824-1881)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present. United States Congress, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. 

On December 29, 2012, a story written by Erica Taylor on Laura Ann Scott Cansler was featured in the "Tom Joyner Morning Show's Little Known Black History Fact" column:

Little Known Black History Fact: Laura Ann Cansler (written by Erica Taylor)

Sources: Miller, Ernest I. "Library Services for Negroes in Tennessee." Journal of Negro Education 10.4 (1941): 637. Print. ; Hudson, Earline H. "Library Service to Blacks and Black Librarians in Tennessee." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 104, 109, 112. Print. ; "Knox County Public Library History." About the Library. Knoxville County Public Library, 2007. Web. 19 May 2012. ; Cotham, Steve. "Local Black History: Charles Warner Cansler." Knoxville News Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2012. ; "Burnside, Ambrose Everett (1824-1881)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present. United States Congress, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Diplomat and the Librarian: George Washington Buckner and Anna Cowen Buckner

Dr. George Washington Buckner (1855-1943), a former slave and a native of Greensburg, Kentucky, served as the U.S. Diplomat to Liberia from 1913-1915. He received his appointment from President Woodrow Wilson. In addition, Dr. Buckner was a physician and a teacher, and a graduate of the Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University) and the Indiana Eclectic Medical College. He wrote a column for the Indiana Democrat called "Colored Folks". 

His wife, Anna Cowen Buckner, a former school teacher and an 1893 graduate of Fisk University, began her library career at the Cherry Street Branch of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library in 1922. The third Carnegie library built in Evansville, Indiana, the Cherry Street Branch provided library services to African Americans from 1914 until its closure in 1954. The library was located on Cherry Street, the same street on which the Cherry Street Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), co-founded by Dr. Buckner, was located. In the same vicinity was McFarland Baptist Church (corner of 5th and Cherry Streets), where Dr. Buckner had an office for his medical practice. This same church was where the dedication ceremony for the Cherry Street Branch Library was held (Rachel Davis Harris of the Eastern Colored Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library was the keynote speaker). The library and church were torn down in the 1970s to make way for the expansion of Wellborn Baptist Hospital.

Dr. Buckner passed away in 1943 and is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana (his gravestone incorrectly shows his death date as 1941). Mrs. Buckner passed away in 1948.

Update 2/23/2012:

The Buckners' son, George Buckner, Jr., was a lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II.  George Jr. was stationed at Fort Huachuca in Cochise County, Arizona, and in 1943, he married Patricia Thompson. Ms. Thompson was once a librarian at the Cherry Street Branch of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library in Evansville, Indiana, and at the Army Camp in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (See: "Derbyville." The Evansville Argus 16 Apr. 1943: 6. Print).

Fort Huachuca was the base where the 10th Calvary Regiment of the United States Army was stationed. The 10th Calvary Regiment was one of several all-black army regiments authorized by the United States Congress in 1866 to serve in the Western United States. Native American tribes living in the area referred to these regiments as the "Buffalo Soldiers" because their bravery, fighting skills, and curly hair reminded them of the buffalo that roamed the lands of the Western United States.

YouTube has a short video on the Buffalo Soldiers that were stationed at Fort Huachuca. Click on the link below to view:

See related post: Article on Evansville, Indiana's Former African American Library Branch

Sources: "News of Indiana Libraries." Library Occurrent 6.6 (1922): 271. Print. ; "Indianapolis Visitor Honored with Party." Chicago Defender 3 Sept. 1938, natl. ed.: 13. Print. ; "Education and the Professions." This Far by Faith: Black Hoosier Heritage. Indianapolis: Indiana Humanities Council, n.d. 19-20. Print. ; "Dr. George Washington Buckner." The Evansville Boneyard. University of Southern Indiana, Feb. 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; Kestenbaum, Lawrence, comp. "Index to Politicians: Buckner." The Political Graveyard, 5 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; "Anna Buckner." Family Search, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2010. ; Hite, Edith E. "Evansville, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 4 Aug. 1928: 7. Print. ; "Dr. Buckner May Resign: Colored Minister to Liberia Wishes to Educate His Children." Indianapolis Recorder 19 June 1915: 1. Print. ; "Ex-Minister Revisits City: Former Minister to Liberia Believes Italy Riding to Fall." Indianapolis Recorder 10 Aug. 1935: 1. Print. ; Fenton, Michele T. "Way Down Yonder at the Cherry Street Branch: A Short History of Evansville's Negro Library." Indiana Libraries 30.2 (2012): 38-39. Print. ;  "Class of 1893." Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee: 1902-1903. Nashville: Brandon Printing Co., 1903. 84. Print. ; "Buckner, George Washington." The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Ed. John E. Kleber. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 1992. 136. Print. ; Harden, Cleona. "Evansville, Ind." Indianapolis Recorder 5 June 1965: 13. Print. ; "George Washington Buckner (1855- )." U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, n.d. Web. 10 May 2011. ; "Dr. George W. Buckner Dies at Residence After Long Illness." The Evansville Argus 20 Feb. 1943: 1. Print. ; "Derbyville." The Evansville Argus 16 Apr. 1943: 6. Print.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Carnegie Free Library of San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

The Carnegie Free Library in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago was built in 1918 with a gift of £2,500 from Andrew Carnegie. It opened for service in 1919 and is still in operation today. In 1998, the Carnegie Free Library, the Public Library of Trinidad, and the Central Library of Trinidad and Tobago were place under the governance of the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) per the NALIS Act, No. 18 of 1998.

The following monograph on the Carnegie Free Library of San Fernando was found through a search on OCLC's WorldCat database:

Commemorative Brochure: 60th Anniversary Celebrations, 1919-1979. San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago: Carnegie Free Library, 1980. Print.

Sources: Caribbean Libraries in the 21st Century: Changes, Challenges, and Choices. Ed. Cheryl Peltier-Davis and Shamin Renwick. Medford: Information Today, Inc., 2007. 4, 9, 12, 134-135. Print. ; Hill, Claudia. "Early Days of the Central Library and the Book Van in Trinidad and Tobago." Libraries & the Cultural Record 42.2 (2007): 183, 188. Print. ; "A Brief History of San Fernando.", 4 May 2007. Web. 1 May 2012. ; Fabrizio, Claude. Towards A Cultural Development Policy: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1981. 22. Print. ; "History of the National Library and Information System Authority." NALIS. National Library and Information System Authority, n.d. Web. 1 May 2012.

Update 05/10/2012:

Here is an additional source for information on the Carnegie Free Library of San Ferndando:

Jordan, Alma T. The Development of Library Service in the West Indies through Interlibrary Cooperation. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1970. 66-67, 71, 143, 148-149, 160, 168, 177, 247, 258-259, 297. Print. 

Update 09/30/2015:

Related posts:  Carnegie Free Library of Barbados (Bridgetown, Barbados) and Carnegie Free Library of St. Lucia (Castries, St. Lucia)

Update 02/07/2016:

Related post: Carnegie Library Roseau (Roseau, Dominica)