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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

first African Americanwoman legislator in Oklahoma, librarian, teacher and activist, was the fifth of six children born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Mabel Kennedy and James Thackeray Diggs Sr., a contractor for Gulf Oil Company.

Both Atkins's parents graduated from Slater Industrial Academy. Her parents encouraged the children, four of whom were girls, to attend college. Her brother Edward O. Diggs was the first black to attend the University of North Carolina Medical School (1961). Atkins attended segregated public schools in Winston-Salem, and graduated as valedictorian of Atkins High School at age fifteen. She enrolled in St. Augustine's, an Episcopalian college in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she met and married Charles Nathaniel Atkins on 24 May 1943. A few days later she graduated with a B.A. in French and Biology. She was an honors student, whose advisor was the historian John Hope ...

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Georgette Mayo

teacher, librarian, and community leader, was born Ethel Evangeline Veronica Martin in Charleston, South Carolina, the only girl of four children born to Thomas Jerry Martin, a laborer, and Ethel Sinkler Martin, a schoolteacher. Martin's youth was spent in constant transition because of family loss. Her father relocated to Chicago in search of employment and died in a streetcar accident. In 1927 her mother died of natural causes while working at the Fairwold School for Colored Girls in Columbia, South Carolina. Having lost both parents by the age of six, Martin was initially reared by her paternal grandmother, Sara Martin, who was an educator at Saint Simon Episcopal Mission in Peak, South Carolina. Ethel Martin later lived with her aunt, Dora Dillard, a seamstress in Columbia, South Carolina. Both women had a lasting influence on Martin. Her grandmother exposed her to books and Paul Laurence Dunbar ...

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Krystal Appiah

educator and librarian, was born Hallie Mae Beachem in West Baden, Indiana, the youngest daughter of Mary Lucy and Hal Beachem, a businessman. Brooks's love of libraries developed when she was nine years old, and the family moved to Indianapolis allowing her to visit the well-stocked neighborhood branch every two weeks with her siblings.

Brooks began her career in librarianship as a tenth grader at Shortridge High School when she received a scholarship to attend the Indiana State Public Library Training Course. At the end of the program, Brooks received a certificate and an appointment as an assistant librarian, attending high school classes in the morning and working forty-two hours a week at the public library in the afternoon. After graduating from high school, Brooks received a bachelor of arts degree from Butler University in Indianapolis in 1934. Two years later she married Frederic Victor Brooks ...

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Dorothy A. Washington

educator, librarian, and activist, was born Doris Hargrett in Hyde Park, Florida, the daughter of Andrew Joshua Hargrett and Delia Leana Green, both educators. Clack was the eighth of nine children born into a nurturing family and in small, tightly knit African American village. The children were “fed a constant diet of positive life-sustaining sense of values,” and she “learned many valuable lessons about community, trust, honesty, love of learning, faith in God” (Clack, 1995). Although her father died when Doris was three, his values of education, hard work, and a can-do attitude were instilled in her and her siblings by their mother. Experiencing economic hardship during the Great Depression, her mother was forced to send Doris to live with her older brother O. V. Hargrett for three years in Plant City, Florida. She rejoined the Hyde Park family at the age of nine.

Upon returning ...

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Melanie R. Thomas

librarian, library director, and educator, was born Louie Zenobia Coleman to Joseph and Alice Hunter Coleman at Childersburg, Alabama. Joseph was a farm laborer, and Alice was a homemaker and helped on the family farm. Zenobia Coleman earned a BA degree in Education at Talladega College in 1921 and continued her studies in education at the University of Chicago during the mid-to late 1920s. Coleman's first professional position was at Bricks Junior College in Brick, North Carolina (later the Franklinton Center), where she worked as a teacher and librarian from 1924 to 1932. In 1936 she graduated from Columbia University Library School earning the bachelor of science degree in Library Science She received a fellowship for advanced study through the General Education Board Fellowship an academic award program funded by the Rockefeller agency The scholarship fund provided financial aid to African American and white students from rural southern ...

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Eric Gardner

librarian, was born in Paducah, Kentucky, to Robert H. Dunlap and Emma M. (Donovan) Dunlap. Robert Dunlap, alternately listed in censuses and directories as a laborer and a driver, was Donovan's second husband, and Mollie Dunlap was raised in a large family that eventually included three siblings, four step-siblings, and her maternal grandmother. She attended schools in Paducah until the family moved north to Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 1918. She continued her education—specifically studying English and elementary education—at Wilberforce University, apparently worked at Wilberforce in the early 1920s, and also taught in Kalamazoo, where she is listed with her family in the 1920 Federal Census (p. 6B).

Dunlap accepted a position as a teacher and librarian at Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina in 1925. She returned north to take an A. B. from Ohio State University in 1928 and with the aid of a fellowship ...

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Sharon Howard

librarian, archivist, bibliophile, and college professor, was born Jean Blackwell in Summerfield, Florida, to Paul O. Blackwell and Sarah Myers. Her father was a commission merchant who operated a farm, buying and shipping produce. Her mother taught elementary school. At age four she moved to Baltimore, Maryland, her mother's hometown. Paul Blackwell remained in Florida and visited the family over the years. Blackwell was a very precocious child and a voracious reader. She graduated as valedictorian from Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School in 1931. The prestigious secondary school gave her a love of black history, which was taught by Yolande Du Bois and May Miller, daughters of two famous black leaders, W. E. B. Du Bois and Kelly Miller. She met the poet and writer Langston Hughes, with whom she shared a lifelong friendship, and the composer and pianist Eubie Blake ...

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Allison M. Sutton

librarian, library educator, administrator, and advocate for librarians, was born Virginia Lacy, the only child of Edward and Ellen Parker Lacy of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father died when she was eighteen months old, and Jones spent her early years living with her mother and grandmother in a poor, racially mixed neighborhood in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Her mother took in boarders to help with expenses, and as Jones recalls of these additional residents, “They made a very good environment for me to grow up in because they were all rather accomplished people” (Anderson, 1978 In Clarksburg Lacy completed elementary school and her first two years of high school There were also frequent trips with her mother to the Clarksburg Public Library as her mother worked to ensure that Lacy had an appreciation for the value of education reading and cultural arts Under the guidance of ...

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Melanie R. Thomas

educator, university librarian, and historian, was born in Texarkana, Texas, to Early Marshall, a carpenter and railroad worker, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, native Mary (Bland) Marshall. Little is known about Marshall's early life, but his father died when “A.P.” was still a boy, and the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There Marshall began his library work experience at one of the public library branches while he attended high school. Marshall prepared himself for a professional career by attending Lincoln University at Jefferson City, Missouri (1934–1938), earning a BA in English and History. He continued his studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, receiving a BS degree in Library Science in 1939.

His foremost contribution to the field of library services was A Guide to Negro Periodical Literature (vols. 1–4, Nov. 1941–Dec. 1946 which he began while working as a library ...

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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 ...

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Ramona Hoage Edelin

library educator and administrator, author and developer of special collections, was born Alethia Annette Lewis in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on the campus of South Carolina State College, the first of two children of William Charles Lewis II and Alethia Minnie Lightner Lewis. Her parents were both educators and church and civic leaders. W. C. “Dad” Lewis was a professor and coach at South Carolina State College. Alethia Lightner Lewis taught in a one-room rural schoolhouse for all the African American children in the county for many years before accepting a position teaching first grade in town during the early 1950s. Her brother, William Charles “Pap” Lewis III, coach and educator, was the only African American to retain his head coaching position at a high school in the state of South Carolina after desegregation.

Annette Lewis completed her primary and secondary education in Orangeburg at age sixteen and ...

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Billie E. Walker

librarian, author, developer of curricula in multicultural children's literature, and one of the first bibliographers of African American children's books, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the daughter of Allen G. Hill, a farmer, and Birdie Tucker, a teacher. During her early childhood, Rollins's family moved to the Oklahoma territory. Although Rollins was denied access to her local library as a child because of her race, she credited her family with encouraging her to seek as much education as possible, and her grandmother, a former slave, with instilling in her a love of books. She explained: “Grandma told wonderful stories of her life as a slave. I've always loved books because of her…. I would read anything and everything” (Hopkins, 300). Rollins attended segregated schools in Beggs, Oklahoma; St. Louis, Missouri; and Holly Springs, Mississippi; and in 1916 she graduated from ...

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Christina G. Bucher

journalist, librarian, bibliographer, and fiction writer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Henry Allen and Bessie Lucas Allen, social workers. Her mother, in fact, was the first African American social worker in Louisville. Shockley's aspirations to be a writer began at Madison Junior High School when a teacher encouraged her in her work; she later became editor of the school newspaper.

Shockley left Louisville in 1944 for Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University, where she wrote for and served as the fiction editor for the Fisk University Herald. When she returned to Louisville for the summer after her freshman year, she wrote a column titled “Teen Talk” for the Louisville Defender. Upon graduating from Fisk in 1948, Shockley moved to Maryland, where she convinced the white editor of the Federalsburg Times to include a column called Ebony Topics in which she ...

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Dora Jean Ashe

poet, librarian, and teacher, was born Annie Bethel Scales Bannister in Henry County, near Danville, Virginia, the daughter of Joel Cephus Bannister, a saloon owner and former slave, and Sarah Louise Scales. The only child of divorced parents, at the age of eleven Annie was sent to Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, where she excelled in literature and languages. After graduating in 1899 she taught for two years, then in 1901 married fellow student Edward Spencer and lived the rest of her life in Lynchburg.

Outwardly it was a pleasant life that Spencer spent with her husband, a postal worker, and their three children in a comfortable house built in part by Edward. For twenty years (1925–1945) Anne Spencer was a librarian and part-time teacher of literature and language at the all-black Dunbar High School, named for the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar The ...

Article

teacher, high school principal, and librarian, was the first African American public school teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was born to slave parents, William Wallace Andrews (usually known as Wallace) and Caroline Sherman Andrews, in Little Rock. When he was four years old, Wallace Andrews had begun working in the home of Colonel Chester Ashley, later the U.S. senator from Arkansas and Little Rock's most prominent citizen. The Ashleys were unusually generous with their slaves, and the senator's wife, seeing Wallace's keen intellect, taught him to read. After Wallace Andrews married Caroline Sherman Colonel Ashley worked with Caroline s owner to enable Caroline to hire her time out This made it possible for the young couple to live together and gave them a home in which to live Caroline Andrews ran a laundry business from her home to compensate her owners for permission ...

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Vanessa J. Morris

academic and international librarian, educator, and scholar, was born Thelma Horn to Daniel Horn, a farmer and a minister, and Cora Ingram, a housewife. She was raised in the rural town of Coatopa, Alabama, with her brother Herman Horn and sister Mattie James (née Horn). Tate majored in history, education, and library science to earn her bachelor's degree from Alabama State University in Montgomery in 1957. She received a master's degree in Library Science from the University of Illinois– Urbana Champaign, in 1961. Thelma Horn Tate began her career in education with the Chicago Public Library system, where she directed a K-12 school library during the early days of the civil rights movement. She was head librarian at the Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, before she joined the Rutgers University library system in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1970 ...

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Linda Spencer

educator and civil rights leader, was born Bess Bolden in Xenia, Ohio, the daughter of William Pinkney Bolden and Fannie Abigail Bizzell. No other information is available about her family. She graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1908. Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, recruited her to help organize the library at the school. Over the next fifty-three years Bolden held a number of positions at Tuskegee, including librarian, teacher, administrator, and museum curator.

Founded in 1881 Tuskegee Institute provided blacks a variety of educational opportunities at a time when most educational institutions admitted only whites At first the school taught vocational and agricultural skills to enable blacks to earn a living In the 1920s the school shifted from teaching vocational skills to academics and became an accredited institute of higher learning While working at Tuskegee Bolden also taught literature ...

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librarian, educator, and writer, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the only child of Daniel P. Williams, from a prominent African American family in Ohio, and Mary Kilkary, a white woman born in Tipperary, County Cork, Ireland. Williams attended public schools, graduated from the Cleveland Central High School, and enrolled at Adelbert College of Western Reserve University (later Case Western Reserve University). Though fair enough to pass for white, Williams never hid his racial heritage, and despite the prevailing racism of the era he flourished in college. Acknowledged by his instructors and peers as an outstanding student and athlete, Williams was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and participated in a number of team sports, varsity baseball among them. He received his bachelor's degree in 1892 and was class valedictorian.

After graduation Williams was appointed first assistant librarian of Adelbert College, and in 1894 ...

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Dorothy B. Porter

Edward Christopher Williams was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the only son of Daniel P. Williams, an African American, and Mary (Kilkary) Williams of Tipperary, Ireland. He was educated in the public schools of Cleveland. In 1892 he received his B.A. degree from Cleveland's Adelbert College of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University). There he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was valedictorian of his class. From 1892 to 1894 Williams was first assistant librarian of Adelbert College, and from 1894 to 1898, the librarian of the Hatch Library of Western Reserve. From 1898 to 1899 he was university librarian of Western Reserve. A brilliant and stimulating teacher, he taught library courses in bibliography, reference work, public documents, and book selection. Williams was granted a leave of absence from Western Reserve from 1899 to 1900 to study at the New York State Library School in ...