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Trailblazing Librarian in the Golden State: A Look at the Life and Career of Miriam Matthews


This thesis is a look at the life and career of Miriam Matthews. In 1927, Miriam Matthews became the first credentialed African American librarian in California, and the first to be hired by the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). After realizing how few resources LAPL held on black history, she began collecting books, clippings, and other materials on the subject. Later, Matthews was also active within the California Library Association (CLA) and American Library Association (ALA). She served as both a member and the chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committees within CLA, helping to organize CLA's fight against censorship in California. From 1949 until her retirement in 1960, Matthews acted as regional librarian for LAPL, supervising twelve branch libraries in LAPL's South Central region. After her retirement, she led efforts to document the black experience in the West. Matthews was an important trailblazer for black librarians in California, and an effective advocate for all users of public libraries in the state and nationally.

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