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 ...
She was called “the Lieutenant” by some of her colleagues and a taskmaster by many of the young people who did their research at the Chicago Public Library branch she headed. Yet Vivian G. Harsh was revered by a generation of prominent black writers and scholars. She was eulogized as “the historian who never wrote,” yet she succeeded in building one of the most important research collections on black history and literature in the United States.
Vivian Gordon Harsh grew up in the world of Chicago’s Old Settlers, the tightly knit community of pioneer black families in the city. The year after she graduated from Wendell Phillips High School on Chicago’s South Side, Harsh began working for the only employer she would ever have, the Chicago Public Library. She started as a junior clerk in December 1909 rising slowly through the ranks during her first fifteen years of service ...
Dorothy Burnett Porter Wesley was the longtime librarian and curator of the Moorland-Spingarn Collection (now known as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center) at Howard University. Her tenure extended from 1930 to 1973 and encompassed the explosion of black history and culture that extended from the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s through the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Porter Wesley assisted the many historians and other scholars who documented, researched, studied, and wrote about black history and culture, especially those associated with Howard University. These scholars included Alain LeRoy Locke, the first African American Rhodes scholar and an important contributor to the New Negro Movement, which became popularized as the Harlem Renaissance; the poet and literary scholar Sterling A. Brown; the artist and art historian James A. Porter, who was Porter Wesley’s husband; the political scientist and diplomat Ralph J. Bunche the sociologist E Franklin Frazier and the historians ...