- Karen Mason
public librarian and activist, was the second of three children born to the painter Reuben Hearde Matthews and the homemaker Fannie Elijah Matthews in Pensacola, Florida. Matthews's paternal grandparents were schoolteachers, and her maternal grandfather, Zebulon Elijah, was Pensacola's first postmaster. Despite a relatively comfortable life the Matthews chose to move Miriam and her siblings, Ella Shaw and Charles Hearde, to Los Angeles in 1907 in order to shield them from the inevitable limitations of racism and segregation in the South. The entire family flourished socially and professionally in their new city. Miriam Matthews distinguished herself as a trailblazer by becoming in 1927 the first known credentialed African American librarian in the Los Angeles Public Library system, where she enjoyed a thirty-three-year career first as a branch librarian, then as a regional librarian after 1949 During her tenure she became recognized for her expertise in documenting ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.