of Events in Black Librarianship
in the Handbook of Black
Librarianship, 2nd edition
A List First Developed by Casper LeRoy Jordan and E.J. Josey
Inquiry Concerning the Intellectual and Moral Faculties and
Literature of Negroes was published by Henri Gregoire.
1810 -- birth
in Norwich, Connecticut of David Ruggles (died 1849), probably the first known
African-American book collector. He was was known for his
intimate knowledge of law as it related to cases of formerly
enslaved escapees on the Underground Railroad.
A school and
library were organized for African Americans in Wilmington,
-- publication of
Alexander Mott Biographical Sketches and Interesting Anecdotes of
Persons of Color. This work contains slave narratives, news
items, and other literature pertaining to early personalities of
1828 -- William Whipper, the
wealthy and respected abolitionist and book collector, organized
the Reading Room, for "the mental improvement of people of
color in the neighborhood of Philadelphia."
The Library Company of
Philadelphia was founded by African Americans as a literary
1833 -- David Ruggles (1810-1849) became
America's first African-American bookseller when he opened a
bookstore near Broadway
1838 -- birth of David Ruggles' Mirror
of Liberty (New York), the first magazine produced in
the United States by an African American.
1839 -- publication of Theodore
Dwight Weld’s most famous hard-hitting and searing pamphlet,
Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839), a
collection of sketches, testimonies, reports and narratives.
According to Harriet Beecher Stowe, one of Weld’s converts,
American Slavery influenced the writing of her novel Uncle
Tom’s Cabin (1852).
1854 -- The Banneker Institute
opened, named for the well-known African-American scientist and
astronomer from Maryland, Benjamin Banneker. The Institute housed
a large portion of Banneker’s papers as well as an impressive
library of books and other documents related to the African
diaspora. These materials were donated in the 1930s to the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania .
1870 -- Andrew Dickson White, the first
president of Cornell University, was instrumental in bringing an
extensive collection of slavery and abolitionist materials
gathered by his close friend, Reverend Samuel Joseph May, to the
Cornell Library. Numbering over 10,000 titles, May's pamphlets and
leaflets document the anti-slavery struggle at the local,
regional, and national levels. Much of the May Anti-Slavery
Collection was considered ephemeral or fugitive, and today these
pamphlets are quite scarce. Sermons, position papers, offprints,
local Anti-Slavery Society newsletters, poetry anthologies,
freedmen's testimonies, broadsides, and Anti-Slavery Fair
keepsakes all document the social and political implications of
the abolitionist movement. The pamphlets in Samuel J. May's great
Anti-Slavery library are now available as electronic searchable
text for the first time. The May Anti-Slavery pamphlets can be
accessed through Cornell's catalog, and by searching the
collection from this Web site. By 2004, the collection will be
digitized for full online access. www.library.cornell.edu/mayantislavery/
Alexander Payne Murray joined the staff of the Library of Congress
as personal assistant to Ainsworth Rand Spofford, Librarian of
1872 -- Arthur and Lewis Tappan, two wealthy brothers
from New York State who were known for their dedication to the
abolitionist cause, donated over 2,000 anti-slavery writings to
Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Greener functioned as university librarian at the University of
South Carolina, reorganized the library, and prepared a catalog.
Greener was also the first black person to receive a degree from
Daniel A. P.
Murray was appointed assistant librarian at the Library of
1884 -- Providence
Public Library, Rhode Island purchased its first, and still
its largest special collection in the C. Fiske Harris Collection
the Civil War and Slavery. Caleb Fiske Harris (1818-1881) was a
New York businessman
1894 -- Edward
Christopher Williams was appointed librarian of Western Reserve
University’s Adelbert College.
Furniture merchant, political activist, bookseller, and pioneer
black bibliophile, Robert Mara Adger (1837-1910) labored to
compile one of the finest book collections of the 19th century.
His Catalogue of Rare Books and Pamphlets: Subjects Relating to
the Past Conditions of the Colored Race and the Slavery in this
Country was published in 1894. Adger was one of the original
organizers of the Banneker Institute (see above, 1854)
Washington Forbes was designated assistant librarian, West end
Branch of the Boston Public Library, where he served generations
of diverse patrons for over thirty years. The United States
Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson established the
"separate but equal" doctrine as a
"reasonable" use of state police power and was
responsible for segregated library facilities for African
Americans. The decision remained in effect until the 1954 Brown v.
Board of Education decision.
1897 -- Alexander
Crummell organized the American Negro Academy to promote
literature, science, and art and to foster higher education.
Afro-American Historical Society
1900 -- Daniel A. P.
Murray edited his Preliminary List of Books and Pamphlets by Negro
Authors for the Negro Exhibit prepared for the Paris Exposition of
Edward C. Williams graduated from the New
York State Library School, the first professionally trained
S. W. Starks was appointed West Virginia
State Librarian and held the position until 1906.
1903 -- Charlotte (NC)
Public Library created a separate library for Negroes with an
independent board of governance, the earliest example of an
independent African American library. Cossitt Library, Memphis,
Tennessee, entered into a contract with Lemoyne Institute to
provide library service to African Americans.
The General Education Board was founded to
promote education without discrimination, and became a great force
for progress in Afro-American education and librarianship.
Library buildings were erected at Alabama A. & M. College,
Atlanta University, Benedict College, Talladega College, and
Edward C. Williams joined the library
school faculty at Western Reserve University.
Rosenberg Library of Galveston, Texas,
established a Negro branch for African American patrons. This was
the first structure erected to provide public library quarters for
exclusive use of the African Americans.
University Press published A Select Bibliography of the Negro
American, compiled by W. E. B. Du Bois. Carnegie libraries
were built at Cheyney State Teachers College, Johnson C. Smith
University, Livingstone College, and Fisk University.
The Hampton Institute Library began
special black collections with the gift of the George Peabody
Collection on the Negro. The thousand-volume
collection of Tucker A. Malone was bought for Hampton Institute by
George Foster Peabody.
The Louisville (Kentucky) Free
Public Library established the first public library in America
exclusively for African Americans. It was operated and
administered entirely by African Americans, although supervised
from the main library.
Thomas Fountain Blue joined the staff
of Louisville Free Public Library becoming the first African
American to head a public library branch.
library was erected at Wiley College, Marshall, Texas. Savannah,
Georgia, initiated independent governance for Negro branch
service, the second instance of this type of action.
libraries were built at Howard University and Knoxville College.
of Records and Research was founded by Monroe Nathan Work at
1909 -- The birth of the idea of an
Encyclopedia Africana by W. E. B. Du Bois.
Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts, funded a traveling library
extension service for southern African Americans. The service was
known as the Marblehead libraries and the extension service for
African Americans was administered by Atlanta University. In
the Louisville Free Public Library, an apprentice class for
African Americans was organized, the first example for any attempt
in the South to provide library training for the prospective
African American librarian. The last classes were held in 1928-29.
Society for Historical Research was begun.
edition of the Negro Yearbook appeared, edited by Monroe
Work. Nine editions in all were published (1912-1938).
Yust attempted, perhaps for the first time, to establish the
status of the Negro in the American public library scene with his
"What of the Black and Yellow Races?"
1914 -- The
Moorland Foundation Collection was formed at Howard University as
a gift of Jesse Moorland, a Howard trustee and bibliophile.
Bibliographical Checklist of American Negro Poets was
published by Arthur A. Schomburg.
Education, a Study of the Private and Higher Schools for Colored
People in the United States by Thomas J. Jones, was published by
the U.S. Bureau of Higher Education.
1920 -- Catherine Allen Latimer became the
first black professional librarian at the New York Public Library;
she was assigned to 135th Street Branch, which is now the Schomburg
Center for Research in Black Culture.
1921 -- The American Library Association
established the Work with Negroes Round Table.
Daniel A. P. Murray retired from the Library
of Congress after 52 years of service.
J. Arthur Jackson was appointed State
Librarian of West Virginia.
Thomas Fountain Blue addressed a session of the
ALA Conference in Detroit; he is regarded as the first black to have
a place on an ALA program.
1923 -- Sadie Peterson Delaney started the
library at Tuskegee Veterans Hospital and began her pioneering
efforts in the field of bibliotherapy.
Virginia Procter Powell Florence graduated
from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, the first
professionally educated female black librarian.
1925 -- The Division of Negro Literature,
History and Prints was established at the New York Public Library.
Hampton Institute (Virginia) Library School was
established with Florence Rising Curtis as director.
1926 -- Negro History Week was inaugurated
by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life
The Schomburg Collection was purchased with
funds provided by the Carnegie Corporation at the behest of the
National Urban League for the New York Public Library.
1927 -- The Carnegie Corporation financed a
conference of librarians at Hampton, Virginia.
Thomas Fountain Blue founded the Negro
Library Conference at Hampton, Virginia.
Miriam Matthews was appointed as the first
African American professional Librarian in the Los Angeles system.
Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America.
was compiled by Monroe N. Work.
1930 -- A conference for Negro librarians
was held at the Morehouse-Spelman Summer school financed by the
Louis S. Shores published "Public
Library Service to Negroes," Library Journal 55 1931
A Negro Library Conference was held at Fisk
University under the direction of Louis S. Shores, November 20-23.
1931 -- Anson
Phelps Stokes implements the idea of an Encyclopedia of the
Negro, with Du Bois as general editor
Arthur A. Schomburg was appointed
curator of the black research collection, New York Public Library,
which was later to be named for him.
1933 -- The Commission on Interracial
Cooperation called a conference on "Education and Race
Relations" to discuss the treatment of Negroes in textbooks.
1936 -- The American Library Association
took a stand against holding segregated conferences.
1938 -- The Ella Smith Elbert Collection
established at Wellesley
College. This collection of approximately 800 volumes on slavery,
emancipation, and Reconstruction was assembled by Ella
Smith, class of 1888, the second black graduate of Wellesley
College, and by her husband, Dr. Samuel G. Elbert.
In 1904, they
purchased a collection of more than 300 volumes gathered by Robert
Mara Adger (1837-1910), a member of the Banneker Institute and the
American Negro Historical Society. This became the nucleus of The
Elbert Collection, which was presented to the College in 1938.
Mrs. Elbert and her son Samuel added to it until 1955. Personal
narratives, autobiographies, tracts, and pamphlets share the
shelves with volumes of poetry, novels, and folklore. Works by
Charles Chestnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and James Weldon Johnson
1939 -- Hampton Institute Library School
1940 -- Eliza Atkins Gleason was awarded
the first Ph.D. in librarianship to an Afro-American. Her University
of Chicago dissertation was entitled "The Southern Negro and
the Public Library."
1941 -- The Atlanta University School of
Library Service opened with Eliza Atkins Gleason as dean.
The North Carolina Central University’s
School of Library Science was inaugurated with Susan Grey Akers,
dean of the Durham school and the library school at Chapel Hill. She
held both deanships until 1946. The Carnegie Corporation and
the General Education Board financed a library conference at Atlanta
University, heralding the opening of the A.U. School of Library
1942 -- The Carnegie Corporation financed
the establishment of a Field service Program to enrich African
American school libraries in the South; the program was under the
direction of Hallie Beacham Brooks of Atlanta University.
The establishment of the James Weldon
Johnson Collection was announced at Yale University Library as a
gift from the noted writer, Carl Van Vechten.
1943 -- Arna
W. Bontemps was named the first African American university
librarian of Fisk University. Two illustrious white librarians,
Louis S. Shores and Carl White, immediately preceded Bontemps.
The E. Azalia Hackley Memorial Collection on
African American music, dance, and drama opened in the Detroit
The North Carolina Negro Library Association
was granted chapter status by the American library Association.
1943 -- Virginia Lacy Jones was awarded the
second Ph. D in librarianship to an African American; her
dissertation was The Problems of Negro High School Libraries in
Selected Southern Cities (University of Chicago).
The School of Library Science, North Carolina
College, Durham (now North Carolina Central University) opened.
1944-1950 -- Marcus
Bruce Christian, poet and historian and supervisor of the
Dillard Historical project, is assistant librarian at Dillard University, New
* * * * *
* * * * *
1945 -- North American Negro Poets: A
Bibliographical Checklist of Their Writing was published by
Dr. Dorothy Porter Wesley wrote "Early American Negro
Writings: A Bibliographical Study," published in The Papers
of the Bibliographical Society of America, which also compiled a
list of early instituted literary and historical societies, most of
which were located in Philadelphia
1946 -- The Arthur Spingarn Collection of
Black Authors was purchased by Howard University to form the
The Henry Proctor Collection was purchased
by the Atlanta University Library as the nucleus of its African
1946 -- publication of the Encyclopedia
of the Negro; preparatory volume with reference lists and reports.
by W. E. B. Du Bois and Guy B. Johnson prepared with the cooperation
of E. Irene Diggs, Agnes C. L. Donohugh, Guion Johnson, et all.
Introduction by Anson Phelps Stokes. New York: The Phelps-Stokes
1947 -- The
Atlanta University School of Library Service held a six-day
conference for 97 African American public librarians.
1949 -- The Atlanta
University School of Library Service initiated a graduate program
leading to a master’s degree. 1950
Gwendolyn Brooks received the Pulitzer Prize for
Poetry, the first African American to receive the coveted award.
1952 -- Clarence R. Graham, of Louisville
Free Public, became the first public librarian in the South to open
the main library to African Americans.
was appointed Assistant Coordinator of Children’s Services and
Storytelling Specialist, becoming the first African American to hold
an administrative position in the New York Public Library. 1954
The ALA approved the idea of a single library
association in a state, which led to integrated associations in the
In Brown v. Board of Education, the US
Supreme Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional.
1956 -- The ALA Conference at Miami Beach,
Florida, was probably the first completely desegregated Association
meeting held in the South. Charlemae Rollins became the first black
to receive the Grolier Foundation Award.
1957 -- Alma Jacobs became the first
African American elected president of the Pacific Northwest Library
Charlemae Rollins became the first black
elected president of the Children’s Services Division of the
American Library Association. 1958
Dorothy B. Porter edited and published
of the African Collection in the Moorland Foundation.
Effie Lee Morris received the E. P.
Dutton-John Macrae Award for advancement of library service to
children and young people.
1960 -- Alma Jacobs was elected president
of the Montana Library Association. Rice
Estes questioned the American Library Association about its position
on race and libraries.
Marshall was elected as the first African-American president of the
Missouri Library Association.
Annette Hoage Phinazee solicited an
accounting from the ALA at the Cleveland, Ohio, conference as it
pertained to race and American libraries.
John E. Scott served as the first African
American president of the West Virginia Library Association.
1963 -- Access to Public Libraries, a
research study prepared for the American Library Association by
International Research Associates, Inc., documented discrimination,
both direct and indirect, in library service to Negroes in the
Effie Lee Morris was appointed Coordinator
of Children’s Services at the San FranciscoPublic Library.
1964 -- Alma Jacobs was elected the first
African American member of the Executive Board of the American
E.J. Josey presented a resolution to the
American Library Association Conference (St. Louis Missouri) that
would prohibit American Library Association officers and staff
members from attending, in their official capacity at American
Library Association expense, the meetings of state associations that
continued to practice segregation. This resolution led to the
integration of the remaining four state associations that refused to
extend membership to African Americans.
1965 --A.P. Marshall was appointed the
first African American of the ALA to chair the nominating committee.
The Atlanta University School of Library
Service held a conference on "Materials by and about American
Negroes." The school also sponsored a conference on "The
Role of the Library in Improving Education in the
South." Dudley Randall, a Detroit poet and librarian,
founded Broadside Press. E. J. Josey became the first black
librarian given membership in the Georgia Library Association.
1966 -- ALA established an ad hoc Committee
on Opportunities for Negro Students in the Library Profession,
chaired by Virginia Lacy Jones.
In Brown v. Louisiana, 383 US 131, the U.S.
Supreme Court held that "persons could not be punished for
using the library peacefully to protest the illegal segregation of
the library itself" (argued in 1965). The Negro Handbook
was published by the Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.
1967 -- The Atlanta University School of
Library Service’s Conference on the "Georgia Child’s Access
to Materials Pertaining to American Negroes" was held. The
first edition of The Negro Almanac, a comprehensive reference work
The Tuskegee Institute News Clipping File was
organized by Monroe N. Work, who used it to provide data for Negro
Yearbooks published at Tuskegee beginning in 1912. The comprehensive
microfilm edition—Tuskegee Institute Clippings File, 1899–1966
(microfilm, 252 reels, Ann Arbor, 1978), available from University
Microfilms International—includes the texts of all published
volumes of the Yearbooks. See John W. Kitchens, ed., Guide to the
Microfilm Edition of the Tuskegee Institute News Clipping File
Carver Research Foundation, 1978).
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of
Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. Yale Center for International
and Area Studies.
1972 -- publication of the Hampton
Institute, Hampton, VA. Collis. P. Huntington Library. Dictionary
Catalog of the George Foster Peabody Collection of Negro Literature
and History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Company.
33,000 cataloged itemsthe thousand-volume collection of Tucker A.
Malone was bought for Hampton Institute by George Foster Peabody.
Ball and Anthony Martin publish Rare Afro-Americana: a
Reconstruction of the Adger Library, Boston, G.K.Hall.
Charles L. Blockson, a Pennsylvania bibliophile and collector of
Afro-Americana, donates the core collection of The
Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection to Temple
University, one of the nation's leading research facilities for the
study of the history and culture of people of African descent.
Temple University’s Blockson Collection is comprised of materials
that date from 1581 to the present. It is among the largest
collection of items relating to the African Diaspora
L. Blockson, Afro-American Collection Curator
Over forty-five years, Blockson acquired a variety of
historical artifacts—printed books, pamphlets, addresses
and speeches, art catalogs, newspapers, periodicals,
manuscripts, broadsides, handbills, lithographs, tape
recordings, stamps, coins, maps, oil paintings, and
sculpture—that all relate to African, African-American,
and Caribbean life and history. According to Mr. Blockson,
"no race of people should be deprived of the knowledge
He insists that "historical knowledge must be given
unto the world to whomever will accept it." As primary
custodian of the Afro-American Collection, Blockson continues the
long tradition of Afro-American bibliophiles in preserving the past
for the future.
1997 -- Rudolph Lewis awarded MLS from
University of Maryland, College Park. The first African-American
raised in Jarratt, Virginia to become a librarian. This is
noteworthy in that Sussex County in which he lived and was educated
for sixteen years and in which his family has resided for over a
century never had an accessible public library within 40 miles while
he attended grade school.
1999 -- publication of Encarta
Africana by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
2001 -- founding of ChickenBones: A Journal (www.nathanielturner.com),
an online educational journal dedicated to Marcus Bruce Christian of
New Orleans and Nathaniel Turner of Southampton. Its major activity
is to provide access to archival information or books that are no
longer accessible or out of publication or to writers and their
writings who are unable to publish or unable to distribute their
wares to a large number of readers.
2002 -- founding of the ChickenBones Education, Arts, and
Literary Society, or simply the ChickenBones Society, which was
establish to sustain the efforts of ChickenBones: A Journal.
Note: There have been numerous additions made to the initial list by
Casper LeRoy Jordan and E.J. Josey
Valdosta Books /
L. Blockson's "Bibliophiles and Collectors of African Americana
* * *
* * * * *
Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All
By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that
wealth is rooted in much more than the
market. True wealth has more to do with
what's in your heart than what's in your
wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons
became one of America's shrewdest
entrepreneurs, achieving a level of
success that most investors only dream
about. No matter how much material gain
he accumulated, he never stopped lending
a hand to those less fortunate. In
Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare
blend of spiritual savvy and
street-smart wisdom to offer a new
definition of wealth-and share timeless
principles for developing an unshakable
sense of self that can weather any
financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy
can make you money, but money can't make
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 5 January