Vivian G. Harsh was the first African American to head a branch of the Chicago Public Library. (Google Images)
Vivian G. Harsh was the first African American to head a branch of the Chicago Public Library. (Google Images)


VIVIAN G. HARSH, Bibliophile

“As a Black bibliophile and collector, Vivian Harsh’s achievements compliment the work of Arthur Schomburg, Jesse Moorland, and others.” — Reference Library of Black America Volumes 1 through 5
  Edited by Mpho Mabunda

Vivian Harsh was born on May 27, 1890. She was an African American librarian, historian, and administrator, who made an important contribution to saving African American history.

Harsh was born in Chicago, IL, the daughter of Fenton W. Harsh and Maria L. Drake Harsh. After graduating from Wendell Phillips High School in 1909, Harsh began working for the only employer she would ever have, the Chicago Public Library. In 1921, she graduated from the Simmons College Library School in Boston and in February 1924, Harsh became the first Black librarian in the Chicago Public Library system.

She was instrumental in convincing Julius Rosenwald to donate land for the George Cleveland Hall branch library in 1932. Because of this, Harsh was named its first head librarian. She immediately began establishing a “Special Negro Collection” which became an integral part of the branch’s community service. While developing this collection as a research and programming center for Chicago’s community of Black scholars and activists, Harsh won the support and assistance of such leaders and writers as Richard Wright, Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, and Horace Cayton.

The collection Harsh started has been renamed the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature and is now located at the Woodson Regional Library in Chicago.

Learn more about Vivian G. Harsh at the Vivian G. Harsh Society.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Previous articleJonathan Butler: South African Legend Talks Youth and Jazz
Next articleUganda: Protests Over Closing of Independent Newspapers by Armed Police
TheBurtonWire.com is the premiere online destination for people who think for themselves. This blog offers news from the African Diaspora, culture that is produced by often overlooked populations and opinion that is informed and based on fact. Tired of the onslaught of websites and talking heads that regurgitate what people want to hear, TheBurtonWire.com is a publication that elevates news and perspectives that people need to hear. TheBurtonWire.com is for individual thinkers who understand that they are part of a larger collective. What is this collective? Free thinking people that care about the world, who will not be categorized or boxed in by society or culture and are interested in issues and topics that defy stereotypes and conventional wisdom.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.