Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and the Education Post, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month…February is just the Blackest.
Today, our featured Black Educator Hall of Fame Member is Dorothy Porter Wesley.
Dorothy P. Wesley was born on May 25, 1905 in Warrenton, VA. She was the oldest of four children. Her parents, a physician and tennis champion, encouraged all their children to get an education to serve the African American community in some capacity. Wesley took those words to heart and devoted her life to service through the vehicle of education.
After her K-12 career, Wesley attended and graduated from Howard University in 1928. After graduation she joined the staff at Howard as a librarian. In 1930 University President W. Mordecai Johnson appointed her to organize and administer a Library of Negro Life and History incorporating the 3,000 titles presented in 1914 by Jesse Moorland.
She continued her studies at Columbia University, where she became the first African American woman to complete her graduate studies at Columbia University receiving a bachelor’s (1931) and a master’s (1932) of Science in Library Science. With her knowledge, over the course of 43 years, Porter had successfully created a leading modern research library that served an international community of scholars.
Under Wesley’s leadership, with the support of the university, the library expanded to over 180,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts and other primary sources—at the time of her retirement. The library has
As a scholar, avid writer and researcher, Porter developed a wide variety of research tools and authoritative bibliographies based on her vast knowledge in the field that would become known as Black Studies. For her efforts, she received numerous honorary doctoral degrees, including honorary degrees from Susquehanna University, Syracuse University, and Radcliffe College.
Wesley is an example of the importance of a librarian. In a world where libraries are replaced by digital media centers, the work of a librarian is becoming a lost art. However, those who are doing the work of a librarian is needed more than ever. Students not only need to learn the sciences, literature and mathematics, but they also need to know where and how to find the lessons and information. Dorothy Porter Wesley was a teacher that showed students how.
Dorothy Porter Wesley; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on Dorothy Porter Wesley, visit the following site.