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Segregation and the Library -- History: Articles

A bibliography to accompany the film Out of Obscurity: The Story of the Alexandria Library Sit-In, prepared by Claire Andrews and Bruce Jensen


"Early Sit-in Reenacted at Library 60 Years Later" by Gordon Flagg. 

            American Libraries, Oct. 1999, v. 30, no. 9, p. 18.

 This tells of the filming of Out of Obscurity.  The story is of the sit-in by five young black men at the Alexandria, VA Public Library in 1939.


"HISTORICAL NOTES  Race and librarianship:  part I" by C. E. Lipscomb.  

             Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2004, v. 92, no. 3, 299-301.

 In 1936 ALA was holding its annual meeting in Richmond, VA.  "ALA was anxious to have Negro librarians attend in large numbers.  Because of the traditional position of the South in respect to mixed meetings," ALA felt it advisable to send a "semi-official" letter from a local librarian to African American members informing them of the conditions they should expect. 

   1)  "Although ALA had arranged with the host hotels that all delegates could use the same entrance, hotel rooms and meals were forbidden to black delegates by Virginia laws." [bold lettering and numbering are by this author for emphasis]

   2)  "Meetings that were part of meals were not open to black delegates, although they could attend sessions followed by meals, if they did not participate in the meals.

   3)  Seating in the front right hand section of meeting rooms was to be reserved for them."

Because of the situation, ALA responded by creating a Committee on Racial Discrimination in 1936.


"HISTORICAL NOTES  Race and librarianship:  Part II" by C. E. Lipscomb.

            Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2005, v. 93, no. 3, 308-310.

 Continues the story of ALA’s anti-segregation activities, or lack of them, reported by Eric Moon, editor of the Library Journal.


"Black Public Libraries in the South in the Era of De Jure Segregation" by Michael Fultz.

            Libraries and the Cultural Record, Summer 2006, v.31. no.3, p. 337-359.


"The Last Days of Jim Crow in Southern Libraries" by Stephen Cresswell.

            Libraries & Culture, Summer/Fall 1996, v.31, nos. 3 & 4, p. 557-573.


"Autonomy and Accomodation:  Houston’s Colored Carnegie Library, 1907-1922" by Cheryl Knott Malone.

            Libraries & Culture, Spring 1999, v. 34, no. 2, p. 97-112.


"Unannounced and Unexpected:  The Desegregation of Houston Public Library in the Early 1950s" by Cheryl Knott Malone.

            Library Trends, Winter 2007, v. 55, no. 3, p. 665-674.


"Three Decades Since Prejudices and Antipathies: A Study of Changes In the Library of Congress Subject Headings" by Steven Knowlton.  

             Cataloging & Classification Quarterly; 2005, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p123-145.

The Library of Congress Subject Headings have long been criticized for their bias. The leading critic has been Sanford Berman, whose 1971 monograph Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People, listed a number of objectionable headings and proposed remedies. In the decades since P&A was first published, many of Berman's suggestions have been implemented, while other headings remain unchanged. This paper compiles all of Berman's suggestions and tracks the changes that have occurred; a brief analysis of the remaining areas of bias is included.

Accessing the articles

The articles at left are all part of Rohrbach Library's vast online collections.  Access is available to members of the KU community.  When you are on campus no login is required, but when you are away from the campus network you will be asked to log in.  Instructions for that are here.