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date: 31 March 2020

Wesley, Dorothy Burnett Porter locked

1905–1995 Librarian and bibliographer responsible for building Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center into one of the world's largest collections of material by and about people of African descent.

Extract

Historian and author of several hundred articles and books, Dorothy Porter Wesley is best known for her work as a librarian. At the age of twenty-five, she was the first to consolidate Howard University's materials by and about African Americans toward building the renowned Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; the rest of her life was spent organizing and making accessible the major archive of black history and culture.

Dorothy Burnett was born in Warrenton, Virginia, and educated in New Jersey, Washington D.C., and later at Howard University. She married James Amos Porter, the painter and historian, in 1929, and in 1932, she became the first African American woman to receive a master's degree in library sciences from Columbia University. She returned to Howard to serve as curator of the collection, a position she held until 1973 following her retirement and the death of her first husband ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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