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Charles Rosenberg

the first African American to manage a public library, founded a widely acclaimed program to train African Americans as library assistants in Louisville, Kentucky, where he supervised the first library department established for African Americans in an era of Jim Crow exclusion. Blue was the first person of African descent to appear in an American Library Association conference program (1922) and a founder of the Conference of Colored Librarians in 1927.

Blue was born in Farmville, Virginia, the second child of Noah and Henri Ann Crowly Blue, who had previously been enslaved. By 1870, Noah Blue was listed in the U.S. Census as a carpenter; he may have been the twelve-year-old male listed in the 1850 slave census as the property of Thomas Blue District No 24 Hampshire County Virginia now West Virginia The family included a six year old daughter Alice and a ...

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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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Joan Marie Johnson

librarian and clubwoman, was born Susan Dart in Charleston, South Carolina, to the Reverend John Lewis Dart, pastor at Morris Street Baptist Church and Shiloh Baptist Church and editor of the Southern Reporter, and Julia Pierre, a former teacher. Dart was educated at the Charleston Institute, a school run by her father, and at his alma maters, Avery Institute and Atlanta University. She then traveled north to attend McDowell millinery school in Boston, a move which later led her to open the first millinery shop owned by an African American in Charleston when she returned home in 1913. She was successful, employing a number of women and girls and shipping hats to customers in the state and throughout the region. After five years Dart closed the shop and volunteered for the Red Cross during World War I. Following the war, in 1921 she shifted her ...

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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, bibliophile, and African Americana collector, was born Mayme Jewell Agnew at Van Buren, Arkansas, to Jerry and Mary Agnew. Jerry Agnew was a general store manager and the only African American merchant in town at the time. His wife Mary Knight Agnew was a homemaker. Upon graduation from high school, Mayme Agnew enrolled at-Lincoln University in Missouri and later moved to-New York. There, she met and married Andrew Lee Clayton in 1946. The couple had three sons. The-Clayton family relocated to California, where Mayme Clayton graduated from the University of-California, Berkeley, with a BA in History. She earned a master of library science degree through an external degree program run by Goddard College in Vermont in the 1970s and in 1983 was awarded a doctorate in Humanities from La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Clayton s career led to several library positions including work at the Doheny ...

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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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Nicole A. Cooke

librarian and bibliotherapist, was born in Rochester, New York, the third of seven children born to Julia Frances (Hawkins) and James Johnson. Delaney's father, who worked as a valet in Poughkeepsie, New York, was a direct descendant of a woman who had escaped from slavery on the Underground Railroad. Born Sara Marie Johnson, Sadie graduated from high school and went on to attend Miss McGovern's School of Social Work, the City College of New York, and the New York Public Library's library school. She was married to Edward Louis Peterson from 1906 to 1921 and together they had one daughter, Grace Peterson Hooks, born in 1907. In 1928, she married Rudicel A. Delaney of Virginia.

In 1920 Delaney began her career as a librarian at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem where she was to become acquainted ...

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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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Constance Koppelman

library director, bibliographer, and art connoisseur, was born Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of Richard Greener, a lawyer and Republican Party activist, and Genevieve Ida Fleet Greener. Her place of birth was probably Washington, D.C., where her father held a variety of jobs. But specifics concerning Greene's childhood and education are scarce because she preferred to keep them a mystery. Apparently she attended Teachers College in New York City, where the family had relocated after Richard Greener was rewarded with a patronage job for his efforts on behalf of the Republican Party. Around 1897 Belle Marion Greener s parents separated the children staying with their mother who within a few years changed the surname to Greene and some years thereafter altered her maiden name from Fleet to Van Vliet During this time the Greenes fully passed in the white world and Belle da ...

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David Michel

librarian, was born in Chicago, the daughter of Fenton W. Harsh and Maria L. Drake Harsh, two graduates of Fisk University. Vivian attended Forrestville Elementary School and completed Wendell Phillips High School in 1908. In 1909 she took the first step toward what would become her life's career—a position, as a clerk, at the Chicago Public Library (CPL).Harsh pursued her education by matriculating at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science (Boston). In 1921 she earned a degree in Library Science and three years later was appointed the head of a local branch of the CPL becoming Chicago s first black librarian She joined the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History ASNLH which allowed her to remain abreast of literary developments in black history Thanks to a fellowship from the Rosenwald Foundation she pursued advanced studies in library science at ...

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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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Nicole A. Cooke

pioneering librarian and community advocate, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the fourth of five children born to Etta James Stanton and Ralph Herbert Stanton. Ralph Stanton worked as an insurance supervisor with several African American insurance companies and was the son of a former slave and grandson of a slave owner in Natchez, Mississippi. Etta James, also the descendant of slaves, was born in St. Geneve, Missouri, and worked as a teacher and amateur pianist and organist. The Stanton family was very close-knit and placed a high priority on education and community involvement. Clara Stanton attended the segregated public schools of St. Louis and went on to attend Milwaukee State Teachers College for a year. She then transferred to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she graduated with an A.B. degree in English and History in 1934 All five Stanton children graduated from college and ...

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Mark L. McCallon

librarian, was born Elonnie Junius Josey in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Willie and Frances Josey. The eldest of five children, Josey attended a segregated school in Port Smith, Virginia. After studying the organ at the Hampton Institute, Josey attended Howard University's School of Music. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1949, he then went to Columbia University in New York and earned a master's degree in history. Unable to obtain a teaching job following graduation, Josey worked as a desk assistant in the Columbia University libraries. He developed a strong interest in libraries while working there and decided to pursue a master's degree in library science from the State University of New York at Albany.

Josey's first position was as a librarian in the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia from 1953 to 1954. In 1954 Josey accepted a teaching position as ...

Article

Patricia Williamson Nwosu

founder, librarian, and civic leader, was the only child born to Corrina Smith Huston and Rolla Soloman Huston, a businessman and politician in Columbus, Ohio. Lee received her early education in Ohio's public school system. Books were plentiful in the Huston's household; as a youth, Lee learned the value of reading books. This belief helped shape her career in which she encouraged African Americans to become more knowledgeable about their heritage through reading, and provided the means for them to do so.

In 1929 Lee earned a BA degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. As a student, she developed a keen interest in Howard's African American collection, serving as a library assistant under Edward Christopher Williams. Later, Lee matriculated at Columbia University in pursuit of a library science degree that she received in 1934.

Lee began her career at Shaw University in Raleigh ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Robert L. Harris

The youngest child of George and Eliza Murray, Daniel Murray was born on March 3, 1852, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was named after Daniel Alexander Payne, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop who pastored Baltimore's Bethel Church from 1845 to 1850. Shortly after 1861, Murray left home for Washington, D.C., where his brother managed the restaurant in the United States Senate. In 1871 he became a personal assistant to the librarian of Congress, Ainsworth R. Spofford. Under Spofford's tutelage Murray broadened his knowledge, became proficient in several foreign languages, and acquired invaluable research skills. In 1879 he married Anna Evans, a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio. Her uncle, Lewis Sheridan Leary, and cousin, John Anthony Copeland Jr., had participated in John Brown's antislavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). Advancing to assistant librarian in 1881 ...

Article

Jeff Bloodworth

librarian, civil rights activist, state senator, and congressman, was born in Collierville, Tennessee, one of the eight children of Ezekiel Owens and Hannah Owens. During Owens's childhood his family moved to Memphis, where Owens graduated from Hamilton High School in 1952 at the age of sixteen. After graduation and upon the receipt of a Ford Foundation scholarship, Owens attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in mathematics, earning his bachelor's degree in 1956. In 1957 Owens earned a master's degree in Library Science from Atlanta University.

After earning his master's degree Owens married Ethel Werfel, whom he met at Morehouse College, and moved to New York City. Employed in the Brooklyn Public Library system, Owens also became active in politics and civil rights in the early to mid-1960s. In 1964 he was named community coordinator for a federal program to encourage ...

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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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Deborah H. Barnes

also wrote under the name Guarionex. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg's vast private collection, now housed in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (formerly the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library), is one of the outstanding collections of materials concerning the history and culture of people of African descent.

Schomburg was born on 24 January 1874 to an unwed freeborn mulatta, Maria Josepha, in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and raised in Puerto Rico by his mother's family. Although he adopted his surname, there is no evidence that Schomburg's father, Carlos Federico Schomburg, a German-born merchant living in San Juan, acknowledged or supported his son. Little is known about Schomburg prior to his emigration to the United States. Upon arriving in New York in 1891 he settled into the Puerto Rican and Cuban community on Manhattan s east side For most of his ...