Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Hampton Institute's Library School


The otherwise unremarkable envelope above which I recently added to my collection of postal librariana has an interesting black history connection. Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute) in Hampton, VA is one of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (UBCUs). The envelope was mailed from The Library School Hampton Institute in Hampton, VA on Dec. 17, 1932 to Northfield, MN. A cooperative effort involving the American Library Association (ALA), the Carnegie Corporation, and other philanthropic foundations resulted in the establishment of a library school at the then Hampton Institute in 1925.  It was the nation's first and only library school to serve African Americans. The library school was initially funded with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation and was accredited by the American Library Association to issue a bachelor's degree in library science. The library school lasted until 1939 when it was cut due to lack of funding. An article on "The Passing of the Hampton Library School" by S.L. Smith appeared in the January, 1940 issue of the Journal of Negro Education. Also under consideration for the library school were Fisk University in Nashville, TN and Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. The decision to select the Hampton Institute for the library school is explored in an article titled "Hampton, Fisk, and Atlanta: The Foundations, the American Library Association, and Library Education for Blacks, 1925-1941" by Robert Martin and Lee Shiflett in the Spring 1966 issue of Libraries and Culture. After the demise of the library school at Hampton Institute a  library school was established at Atlanta University in 1941. That library school ceased to exist in 1991. A history of the Atlanta University school is located HERE.

In 2018 when Hampton University celebrated its 150th anniversary the University's Library conducted a forum on "Minority Recruitment and Retention in the Library & Information Science Field." 

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