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Eliza Atkins Gleason Edit Profile

educator , Librarian

Eliza Atkins Gleason, American librarian, educator. Recipient Alumni award Fisk University, 1964.


Gleason was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Simon Green and Olenona Pegram Atkins. Both of her parents were educators. Her mother was a teacher and her father was the founder and first president of Slater State College, now Winston-Salem State University.


Bachelor of Arts, Fisk U., 1930;Bachelor of Science, University Illinois, 1931;Master of Arts, University of California at Berkeley, 1936;Doctor of Philosophy, University Chicago, 1940.


In 1941,she established and became the first Dean of the School of Library Service at Atlanta University and created a library education program that trained 90 percent of all African-American librarians by 1986. In 1936 she received her master's from the University of California, Berkeley and moved to Chicago where she received her Ph.D. in 1940 from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, The Southern Negro and the Public Library: A Study of the Government and Administration of Public Library Service to Negroes in the South, was published in 1941 and was the first complete history of library access in the South, with a focus on African-American libraries.

She then took a position as the director of libraries at Talladega College in Alabama. In 1941 she established and became the first Dean of the School of Library Service at Atlanta University. Gleason was the first African American to serve on the board of the American Library Association from 1942-1946.

In 1978, she was appointed to the Chicago Public Library board and became the executive director of the Chicago Black United Fund. Gleason died in 2009 at 100 years old. In 2010, she was posthumously inducted into the University of Louisville's College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Honor.

The American Library Association awards the triennial Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award in her honor for the best book written in English in the field of library history, including the history of libraries, librarianship, and book culture.


Member Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference, since 1950, Southeast Chicago Commission, since 1952, Indiana Voters Illinois, since 1952. Executive committee Fisk University Alumni Association, 1969-1973. Co-chairman Fisk University Centennial campaign, 1963-1965.

Board directors Chicago Public Library, 1978-1979. Member women's auxiliary Cook County Physicians Association, since 1940. Women's auxiliary Meharry Medical College Alumni Association, since 1940, International College Surgeons, since 1951.

Member American Library Association (council 1942-1946, fellow 1938-1940), American Association of University Professors, Women's Auxiliary International College Surgeons, Phi Beta Kappa.


Married Maurice F. Gleason, November 5, 1937. 1 daughter, Joy Patricia Gleason Carew.

Simon Green Atkins

Oleona (Pegram) Atkins

Maurice F. Gleason