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Register of the Records of the



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In the basement of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas, a library known as the Negro Public Library was "established for the benefit of the members of said church and especially for the benefit of colored children residing in the vicinity."  Chartered on July 28, 1941, the library was supported entirely by donations of money, books, and furnishings; it was governed by a Board of Directors.  About four-fifths of the library's financial support came from white citizens, an "admirable" and "liberal" step commended by The Chicago Tribune in an editorial ca. 1942.  Tentative plans were made to incorporate the Negro Library into the city library system as a separate branch, possibly as early as the end of World War II.  The Negro Library did become a city tax-supported institution ca. 1950, but despite intentions to build a library, the new building never materialized.  In 1961 the Library Board requested a change of name from Negro Public Library to Ella Reid Public Library, in honor of a church and community leader who was highly respected by Tyler's Negro population.  The name was changed officially, but residents continued to refer to it as the Negro Public Library.

The Negro Public Library had a trained librarian from the start, but there was never a staff of more than two part-time assistants.  Sarah Jackson, Bessie Davis Randall, and Julia B. Warren served as librarians between the years 1941 and 1947.  In 1947 Mrs. Willie Mae Kelley became the librarian, serving in that capacity for over twenty years.


Gift of the Carnegie Public Library, Tyler, Texas, 1972.


The records of the Negro Public Library contain correspondence, 1941-1968; librarian's monthly and annual reports, 1941-1968; financial reports and budgets, 1941-1953, and 1964-1969; circulation records, register of borrowers, and accession records, undated; book and magazine lists, 1943-1954; property and equipment inventories, 1950-1961; newspaper clippings, ca. 1942; and miscellaneous items including the charter, minutes of a Board meeting, field visit report on the library by the Texas State Library, and samples of stationary and personnel forms.  The records have been divided according to the form of the material, and are arranged chronologically.

The card catalogs, arranged by author and title, are available on microfilm.

The box list of the Register of the Records of the Ella Reid Public Library (Negro Public Library) is two pages long.