Celebrating Catherine Allen Latimer, NYPL’s first African-American Librarian.
Catherine Allen Latimer was New York Public Library’s first African American librarian. She was hired as a substitute in 1920 after being an assistant at Tuskegee Institute’s library for a year from 1919-1920. She stayed for her entire career until she retired in 1946. She founded the Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints at the 135th Street Branch of NYPL in 1925. This was a precursor to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Later, she was promoted to a curator of the same by Arturo Alfonso Schomburg.
Catherine was born in Nashville, TN in 1896. Her family eventually moved to NYC. She was educated during her early life in Germany and France. She spoke French fluently and read German. For high school, she attended public schools in Brooklyn, NY. Her undergraduate work and library training took place at Howard University and she completed some graduate work at Columbia University.
Over her career, she lectured to students of Wellesley College, Columbia University, Vassar College, Smith College, Hunter College and Pratt Institute. Continue reading