CFP: Black Women Librarians

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CFP: Black Women Librarians 

In Spring 2022, the Library History Round Table will devote volume 6, number 1 of  Libraries: Culture, History, and Society, and significant space in  LHRT News and Notes, to scholarship, book reviews, and blog posts on Black women librarians. This issue will be guest edited by Dr. Nicole A. Cooke, the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. A peer-reviewed publication of the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and the Penn State University Press, LCHS is available in print and online via JSTOR. 

Dr. Cooke will accept proposals for scholarly articles and select 4-6 research studies for publication in LCHS. She will collaborate with additional authors and with Brett Spencer,  LCHS book editor and LHRT blog editor, to publish additional material in News and Notes. We are particularly interested in material on Black women librarians who have not yet been covered adequately by the scholarly or professional literature (please see the list below). Proposals concerning other pathbreaking librarians are also welcomed. Thus, there will be various opportunities for all types of writers within the library history community to contribute toward raising awareness about the experiences of Black women within our field.  

To submit a proposal, please contact Dr. Cooke via this sign up form by November 16, 2020. 

Proposals should include the following information: 

  1. Brief Bio (200 words max) 
  1. Which librarian are you interested in writing about and why? (200 words max) 
  1. Are you interested in writing a research article (final manuscripts will be about 7000 words per manuscript, which includes all text, notes, tables, and images, in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced) or a blog post? (posts will be up to 3000 words) 
  1. What might your piece focus on? 
  1. If you are proposing a librarian not on the list below, please describe her and discuss her contributions to the LIS profession. 

Tentative Timeline 

  • August 2020 – CFP distributed  
  • November 16, 2020 – proposals due to guest editor 
  • Winter 2020/Spring 2021 – proposals reviewed, and decisions conveyed to authors 
  • June 1, 2021 – Submissions due to guest editor 
  • June – July 2021 – Peer review and feedback for LCHS contributions. 
  • Fall 2021 – Revisions due  
  • Early January 2022 – final submissions due to LCHS Editors-in-Chief 
  • January/February 2022 – submissions proofed 
  • Mid-late March 2022 — Vol. 6, no. 1 is published 

Black Women Librarians 
(most descriptions from Wikipedia) 


  • Hallie Beachem Brooks (1907 – 1985) was a prominent African American librarian, educator, and academic who worked to advance literacy and educational opportunities for people of color. She was a Professor of Library Science at Atlanta University, published numerous book reviews, and mentored African American library students. 
  • Eliza Atkins Gleason (December 15, 1909 – December 15, 2009) was the first African American to receive a doctorate in Library Science. In 1941, she established and became the first Dean of the School of Library Service at Atlanta University and created a library education program that trained 90 percent of all African American librarians by 1986.  
  • Virginia Lacy Jones (June 25, 1912 – December 3, 1984) was an American librarian who throughout her 50-year career in the field pushed for the integration of public and academic libraries. She was one of the first African Americans to earn a PhD in Library Science and became dean of Atlanta University’s School of Library Sciences.  
  • Doris Hargrett Clack (March 24, 1928 – November 22, 1995) was an African American librarian and expert on cataloging and classification. She was a professor of library science at Florida State University for 23 years and did extensive scholarly work on the library classification of Black studies and the second edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2).  
  • Dr. Elfreda A. Chatman was well known for her ethnographic approaches in researching information seeking behaviors among understudied or minority groups (poor people, the elderly, retired women, female inmates, and janitors). 


  • Virginia Proctor Powell Florence (October 1, 1897 – 1991) was a trailblazer in both African American history and the history of librarianship. In 1923 she became the first black woman in the United States to earn a degree in library science. She also became the first African American to take and pass the New York high school librarian’s examination. 
  • Lucille Cole Thomas is the first and only African American president of the New York Library Association (1977-1978), and the first African American to serve as president of the School Library Media Section (SLMS) (1973-1974) of the New York Library Association (NYLA). In addition, she was the first African American elected president of the New York City School Librarians Association (1970-1972) and The New York Library Club (1977-1978). Dr. Thomas received her library science degree from Columbia University (1957), where she was active as president of the alumni association. She is also a graduate of New York University and Bennett College. 


  • Charlemae Hill Rollins (June 20, 1897 – February 3, 1979) was a pioneering librarian, author and storyteller in the area of African American literature. During her thirty-one years as head librarian of the children’s department at the Chicago Public Library as well as after her retirement, she instituted substantial reforms in children’s literature. 
  • Effie Lee Morris (April 20, 1921 – November 9, 2009) was an African American children’s librarian, educator, and activist, best known for her pioneering public library services for minorities and the visually-impaired. Morris developed Cleveland Public Library’s first Negro History Week and was New York Public Library’s first children’s specialist for visually impaired patrons. She was the first coordinator of children’s services at San Francisco Public Library, where she was also the first African American to hold an administrative position. 
  • Effie Lee Newsome (1885–1979), born Mary Effie Lee in Philadelphia, was a Harlem Renaissance writer. She mostly wrote children’s poems and was the first famous African American poet whose work was mostly in this area. She edited a column in The Crisis from 1925 until 1929, called “The Little Page”, where she made drawings and wrote poetry for children and parables about being young and black in the 1920s. In addition to her writing, she worked as a librarian at an elementary school in Wilberforce, Ohio.  
  • Henrietta M. Smith (born 1922), was the first African American professor at the University of South Florida, School of Information. She also taught at Florida Atlantic University. She was selected as the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children’s (ALSC) Distinguished Service Award, which honors an individual ALSC member who has made significant contributions to library service to children and ALSC. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement.  
  • Rachel Davis Harris (Jan. 10, 1869 – Sept. 22, 1969) was an American librarian and activist. She was an influential female African American director and children’s librarian of the Louisville Free Public Library, Western Colored Branch, one of the first segregated libraries built in the southern United States. She promoted library outreach to youths and equitable access to library services in the black community during the Jim Crow era. 


  • Lillian Haydon Childress Hall (February 24, 1889 – April 23, 1958) was an American librarian. Hall was the first professionally trained African American librarian in Indiana and the first African American to graduate from the Indiana state library school. 
  • Vivian G. Harsh (May 27, 1890 – August 17, 1960) was an American librarian. On February 26, 1924, she became the Chicago Public Library system’s first Black librarian. 
  • Dr. Jean Ellen Coleman was the first director of the American Library Association’s OLOS Division where she worked to ensure that all citizens, particularly Native Americans and adult learners, have access to quality library services. 
  • Mollie E. Dunlap (September 2, 1898 – July 7, 1977) was a librarian, bibliographer, and educator. Her research illuminated the scholarship of African Americans and the experience of African Americans in higher education, especially the groundbreaking publication of the Index to Selected Negro Publications Received in the Hallie Q. Brown Library. Her work as a founding member of the first African American library association, as well as within the American Library Association, championed the civil rights of black librarians in the United States. 
  • Doris E. Saunders (August 8, 1921 – March 24, 2014) was an American librarian, author, editor, businesswoman, and professor of Journalism. She started her career as Johnson Publishing Company librarian and then became head of the Johnson Publishing Company Books Division. She was also Professor of Journalism and Chairwoman of the Department of Mass Communication at Jackson State University. After her retirement from Jackson State, Saunders continued to work with the Books Division at Johnson Publishing. 
  • Marjorie Adele Blackistone Bradfield (May 10, 1911 – November 19, 1999) was an American librarian who worked at the Detroit Public Library and Detroit Public Schools for many years. Bradfield was the first African American librarian hired at the Detroit Public Library. 
  • Amanda Sullivan Randle Rudd (April 9, 1923 – February 11, 2017) was an American librarian and the first African American to serve as Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.  


  • Catherine Allen Latimer (1896 – 1948) was the New York Public Library’s first African American librarian. She was instrumental in forming the library’s Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints, which she then headed. 
  • Vivian Ann Davidson Hewitt (born February 17, 1920) was the first African American president of the Special Libraries Association. She was also Pittsburgh’s first African American librarian and an art collector.  
  • Anita Florence Hemmings (June 8, 1872 – 1960) was the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar College. After graduation she became a librarian at the Boston Public Library. 
  • Marion Stokes (born Marion Butler, November 25, 1929 – December 14, 2012) was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, access television producer, civil rights demonstrator, activist, librarian, and prolific archivist, especially known for single-handedly amassing hundreds of thousands of hours of television news footage spanning 35 years, from 1977 until her death at age 83, at which time she operated nine properties and three storage units.  
  • Ruby Chappelle Boyd (born March 18, 1919) was the first African American librarian in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She also worked to preserve the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 


  • Sadie Peterson Delaney (February 26, 1889–May 4, 1958) was the chief librarian of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama, for 34 years. She is well known as a pioneer for her work with bibliotherapy. 
  • Mollie Huston Lee (January 18, 1907 – January 26, 1982) was the first African American librarian in Raleigh, North Carolina and the founder of Raleigh’s Richard B. Harrison Public Library, the first library in Raleigh to serve African Americans. Her greatest achievement was developing, maintaining, and increasing public library service to the African American people of Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina while striving to achieve equal library service for the entire community. 
  • Jessie Carney Smith is an American librarian and educator, and Dean of the Fisk University Library and Camille Cosby Distinguished Chair in the Humanities. She was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in library science from the University of Illinois. She is also a scholar and author of research guides and reference books focusing on notable African American people.  
  • Hannah Diggs Atkins (November 1, 1923 – June 17, 2010) was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1968 to 1980, and the first African American woman elected to it. Previously she was a librarian at Fisk University, Oklahoma City Public Library, Oklahoma State Library, and Oklahoma City University. 
  • Virgia Brocks-Shedd (June 22, 1943 – December 4, 1992) was an American librarian and poet. She was the head librarian at the Tougaloo College library and was a founding member of multiple library associations, working to ensure African Americans were represented in libraries. Brocks-Shedd published poetry in multiple venues and inspired an appreciation for literature in generations of students. 
  • Ethel Bolden (December 7, 1918) received her MSLS from Atlanta University. She began her career as a librarian at Waverly Elementary School in Columbia, SC (1945-56). She also worked at Perry Junior High School, Allen University, South Carolina State College, and she was given the honor and challenge of being the first African American professional at Dreher High School in 1968, where she continued to work until she retired in 1982. 
  • Allegra Westbrooks was hired by the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County in 1947 prior to desegregation and managed the only library serving African American residents in Charlotte at the time (Brevard Street Library). After the library system desegregated in 1956, Westbrooks was promoted to head of acquisitions and later assistant director. She was also the first African American public library supervisor in Charlotte, serving in this role and overseeing significant expansion until her retirement in 1984, after a 35-year career. Allegra Westbrooks passed away in April of 2017 at the age of 96.  
  • Julia Agnes Washington Bond was born June 20, 1908, in Nashville, Tennessee. Bond was a beloved worker at the Atlanta University Library for decades. Bond and her husband supported their children in their civil rights engagement and son Julian in his public service career. Julia Agnes Washington Bond passed away on November 2, 2007. 
  • Annie Lou McPheeters (née Watters) (February 22, 1908 in Rome, GA – December 23, 1994 in Atlanta, GA) was an African American librarian and civil rights activist. Her undergraduate education was at Clark Atlanta University and Hampton University (Library Science, 1933), and in 1947 completed a postgraduate degree in Library Science at Columbia University. In 1936 she became the librarian of the Auburn Carnegie Library, in Atlanta GA. She started the important Negro History Collection at that institution and was instrumental in the creation of educational programs. She campaigned for library desegregation in Atlanta, which was achieved in 1959. From 1966 to 1975, she worked as a librarian at Georgia State University.  
  • Constance Hill Marteena, a 1933 graduate of the Hampton Institute Library School, was president of the North Carolina Negro Library Association from 1952 until 1954. She received her master’s degree in library science from the University  of Chicago in 1946. In addition, Ms. Marteena was a librarian at North Carolina A & T State University (1929-1937) and at Bennett College (1937-1967), both in Greensboro, North Carolina.   
  • Mattie Herd Roland was Alabama’s first African American librarian. Herd was selected and trained to head the first library for African American use in Alabama, the Booker T. Washington branch of the Birmingham Public Library, which opened in 1918. 
  • Willye F. Clayton Dennis (March 14, 1926 – March 9, 2012) was an American librarian, civil rights activist and Florida state legislator. She was the first African American Chief of Children’s Services for the Jacksonville Public Library System. She was elected president of the Jacksonville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and elected to the 15th District of the Florida House of Representatives for two terms. 
  • Alice Dugged Cary was born in New London, Indiana, in 1859. In 1921 she was appointed the first librarian of the Auburn Carnegie Library in Atlanta, the first library in the city accessible to African Americans under segregation. Cary was politically active, serving as the Georgia State Chairman of the Colored Woman’s Committee, and as president of the Georgia State Federation of Coloured Women. She died in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1941. 
  • Florence Edwards Borders (February 24, 1924 – September 7, 2018) was an American archivist, historian, and librarian. She specialized in the preservation of African American historical artifacts, especially Afro-Louisianans.  
  • Christine Wigfall Morris (1922-2014) was an American librarian. She was the first African American to become a librarian in Clearwater, Florida. She was known for inspiring a whole generation of local children to read.[3] 
  • Judith Ann Carter Horton (May 17, 1866 – February 16, 1948) was an educator, librarian, and community leader who founded the first public library for African Americans in Oklahoma. 
  • Tommie Morton-Young is an educator, activist, author, and historian. After becoming the first African American to graduate from George Peabody College for Teachers, she went on to work as a librarian and professor in both education and library science. Her human rights activism and work preserving African American history has earned her recognition by a number of organizations in Tennessee. 
  • Bertha Pleasant Williams (1923–2008) was the first black professional librarian in Montgomery, Alabama, United States. In 1948 the segregated city required a certified librarian as a prerequisite to open a library for the city’s African American residents. Williams, who had recently graduated from Atlanta University, took the position, established the Union Street Library, and worked in libraries for most of her life.  
  • Ella Gaines Yates (June 14, 1927 – June 27, 2006) is recognized in the library world as being the first African American director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System in Georgia.  
  • Dulcina DeBerry (June 12, 1878 – December 29, 1969) was an American educator and librarian. She became the first African American to work as a librarian in Madison County, Alabama, when in 1940 she arranged the opening the first public library for black community members in the Huntsville area. 


  • Mayme Agnew Clayton (August 4, 1923 – October 13, 2006) was a librarian, and the founder, president, and leader of the Western States Black Research and Education Center (WSBREC), the largest privately held collection of African American historical materials in the world. The collection represents the core holdings of the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum (MCLM) located in Culver City, California. The museum is the largest and most academically substantial independently held collection of objects, documents, and memorabilia on African American history and culture. 
  • Alma Smith Jacobs (21 November 1916 – 18 December 1997) was the first African American to serve as Montana State Librarian. She served as Head Librarian at the Great Falls Public Library from 1954–1973, and in 1973 was named Montana State Librarian, serving until 1981.  
  • Miriam Matthews (August 6, 1905 – June 23, 2003) was an American librarian, advocate for intellectual freedom, historian, and art collector. In 1927, Matthews became the first credentialed African American librarian to be hired by the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). 
  • Pauline Short Robinson (1915–1997) was an American librarian and civil rights activist. She was the first African American to be hired as a librarian in the city of Denver, Colorado. During her 36-year career with the Denver Public Library system, she worked in several branches and served as Coordinator of Children Services for 15 years. In 1996 the Denver Public Library named a newly built branch in Northeast Park Hill in her honor.  
  • Joyce Annette Madkins Sumbi (October 23, 1935 – July 17, 2010) was an American librarian. She was the first African American administrator in the LA County Library system.