Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian
The first African American to head a branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL), Regina Andrews led an extraordinary life. Allied with W. E. B. Du Bois, Andrews fought for promotion and equal pay against entrenched sexism and racism and battled institutional restrictions confining African American librarians to only a few neighborhoods within New York City.
Andrews also played a key role in the Harlem Renaissance, supporting writers and intellectuals with dedicated workspace at her 135th Street Branch Library. After hours she cohosted a legendary salon that drew the likes of Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and Zora Neale Hurston. Her work as an actress and playwright helped established the Krigwa Players and Harlem Experimental Theater, where she wrote plays about lynching, passing, and the Underground Railroad.
Ethelene Whitmire's new biography offers the first full-length study of Andrews' activism and pioneering work with the NYPL. Andrews established her career at a time when librarianship had just been recognized as a profession. Whitmire's portrait of her sustained efforts to break down barriers reveals Andrews's legacy and places her within the NYPL's larger history.
Ethelene Whitmire is an associate professor of library and information studies at the University of Wisconsin.
"[A] much-needed, essential study. By placing Regina Andrews' life and work in historical and familial context, the author provides insight into Andrews' significant contributions to the twentieth century and the Harlem Renaissance."
--Verner Mitchell, coauthor of Literary Sisters: Dorothy West and Her Circle, A Biography of the Harlem Renaissance