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Celebrating Women's History Month

by River Seiler on 2023-03-01T08:00:00-06:00 in U.S. History since 1877, Language and Literature, U.S. History to 1877, Education, World History | 0 Comments

Hi friends,

March is Women's History Month! As we all celebrate the women in our lives - friends, family members, and for about 50% of us*, ourselves, let's also take a moment to learn about women's history in the world of libraries (percentage according to 2020 U.S. census data). 

Famous Women in Librarianship


Regina Anderson - Anderson was an American librarian who, along with W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founded the Krigwa Players, a black theater company. She wrote plays that the Players produced. In 1938, Anderson became the first person of color to be promoted to the rank of supervising librarian at the New York Public Library. (Photo from Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia).







Augusta Braxton Baker - Baker was an American librarain and storyteller. Baker oversaw children's programs, specializing in books for and about Black children. Baker encouraged authors, illustrators, and publishers to produce, and libraries to purchase, books depicting Black people in a favorable light. (Photo from Wikipedia).






Alia Muhammad Baqir - Baqir was the chief librarian of the Al Basrah Central Library in Basra, Iraq. Baqir saved an estimated 30,000 books from destruction during the Iraq War, including a biography of Muhammad dated around 1300. (Photo from an August 17, 2021 tweet by user @gbutrous).







Pura Belpré - Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York city, beginning her library career in 1921. Belpré led outreach activities to the Puerto Rican community, instituting bilingual storytimes, buying Spanish-language books, and implementing programs for Puerto Rican holidays. (Photo from Reforma).





Ruth Brown - Brown was an American librarian who was dismissed in 1950 from the Bartlesville, Oklahoma public library, after 30 years of service, for providing "subversive" materials to the public and indoctrintating children. It was widely believed at the time that her dismissal was due to her promotion of the equality of African-Americans. (Photo from the Oklahoma Library Association).








Camille Callison - Callison is an Indigenous librarian, archivist, and cultural activist of the Tahltan Nation in British Columbia, Canada. Callison helped to foster the Indigenous Cultural Competency Training program for University of Manitoba Libraries staff and has worked to expand knowledge of Indigenous culture and authors. (Photo from KBRS).






Belle da Costa Greene - Greene was an American librarian who managed the personal collection of J.P. Morgan, later being named the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Greene was born to Black parents, but spent her professional career passing for white. (Photo from Princeton University's Alumni page).







Alice Lougee Hagemeyer - Hagemeyer is a deaf American librarian who has worked to make libraries more accessible for deaf people. She founded the American Library Association's Library Service to People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Forum in 1982. (Photo from Gallaudet University).







Yvonne Oddon - Oddon was a member of the French Resistance in World War II. As the Head Librarian of the Musée de l'Homme, Oddon created a group called the Group du Musée de l'Homme, which helped prisoners of war escape and find shelter and food. (Photo from Musée de l'Homme).






Women's Struggle for Recognition in the Library Setting

Activism among women librarians began very early, "documented at least as early as 1892" (Sarah M. Pritchard, "Library History and Women's History: An Ongoing Convergence" for American Libraries Magazine). The role of librarians is already undervalued in society. Sexism and further barriers like systemic racism and the rising cost of higher education means that women in libraries "are dealing with the systemic undervaluing of their work and the resulting lack of financial reward" (Alice Nuttall, "Women's Work, Women's Words: Feminist Library History" for Book Riot). 

You can read more in Erin Schreiner's essay "Librarians and the Gender Pay Gap" linked here.

Book Recommendations (add links and book covers)


Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the Library again soon!

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