For the second year in a row, Broward
County Library's Bienes Center for the Literary Arts is proud to present an
exhibition in celebration of Black History Month.
This year's display honors the memory of
one the most prominent African-American librarians and bibliophiles of the
twentieth century: Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995). It does so by showcasing
sixty-nine books, pamphlets, post cards, photographs, drawings, ephemera,
awards and memorabilia from her vast personal collection.1 Also included are a
selection of books and art works by James A. Porter (1905-1970), her first
husband, and a selection of books by Charles Harris Wesley (1891-1987), her
Dorothy Porter Wesley was born in Virginia
in 1905, went to high school in Montclair, NJ, graduated in 1928 with an A.B.
degree from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and in 1932, became the first
African American woman to receive a Master of Library Science degree from
Columbia University, New York City.
For forty-three years, from 1930 to 1973,
she was the curator of Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Collection, and
was almost single handedly responsible for building the library into a
world-class research facility relating to the history and culture of people of
African descent. She was a prolific author and
bibliographer yet only a very small
selection of her work is included in the exhibition. She was also a prominent
member of many professional organizations, including the American Library
Association, the Bibliographical Society of America and the Society of American
Archivists. She also served as a consultant to the National Library of Lagos,
Nigeria, and received honorary doctorate degrees from Susquehanna University,
PA, 1971; Syracuse University, NY, 1989, and Radcliffe College, MA, 1990.
Constance Porter Uzelac, daughter of
Dorothy Porter Wesley, is the guardian and keeper of the numerous books, papers
and art works that once belonged to her parents and from which a very small
selection is currently on display in the Bienes Center. She labored long and
hard to ensure that the exhibition and accompanying printed catalog properly
represented the extensive and distinguished accomplishments of her remarkable
parents, and for that I am deeply indebted. I would like to also thank Margaret
(Peggy) Bing, cataloger/curator of the Bienes Center for her always wise and
able assistance, and Samuel F. Morrison, director of Broward County Library,
for his professional support and encouragement in bringing this exhibition to
the viewing public.
James A. Findlay, Librarian
Center for the Literary Arts