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Finding Aid for the Miriam Matthews papers, 1845-1988, bulk 1920-1980
1804  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material
  • Related Oral History
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID

  • Title: Miriam Matthews papers
    Collection number: 1804
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 9.5 linear ft. (19 boxes. 2 oversize boxes.)
    Date (inclusive): 1845-1988, bulk 1920-1980
    Abstract: Miriam Matthews (1905-2003), the first credentialed African-American librarian in the state of California, was a librarian at Los Angeles Public Library (1927-1960), a historian of African American and California history, and an active member of the American and California Library Associations' Committees on Intellectual Freedom. The collection consists of clippings, correspondence, photographs, reports, ephemera, and other materials relating to intellectual freedom; the Los Angeles Public Library; Matthews' involvement with professional, civic, community, and historical organizations; and her research on African-American and California history.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Matthews, Miriam.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Miriam Matthews family, 2008.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Krystal Appiah in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, Summer 2008.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Miriam Matthews papers (Collection 1804). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography

    Miriam Matthews (1905-2003), the first credentialed African-American librarian in the state of California, was a librarian at Los Angeles Public Library (1927-1960), a historian of African American and California history, and an active member of the American and California Library Associations' Committees on Intellectual Freedom.
    Miriam Matthews was born on August 6, 1905 in Pensacola, Florida and moved to Los Angeles with her family two years later. After graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1922, Matthews studied at the University of California, Southern Branch (now UCLA) for two years. She transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with a B.A. in 1926 and a certificate in librarianship in 1927, becoming the first known certified African American librarian in California. Matthews began her career at the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) in 1927 and became a branch librarian in 1934. She took two leaves of absence from LAPL, one in 1940 to work at the New York Public Library in a librarian exchange program and another from 1944 to 1945 in order to earn a master's degree in library science from the University of Chicago. In 1949, she was promoted to regional librarian, a position she held until her retirement from LAPL in 1960.
    Matthews was one of the first people to advocate for the establishment of Negro History Week (now African American History Month) in Los Angeles, leading to its official observance by the City of Los Angeles in 1931. In 1946, she became chairman of the California Library Association Committee on Intellectual Freedom. The following year, she was appointed to the American Library Association Committee on Intellectual Freedom (1947-1951) where she contributed to the 1948 revision of the Library Bill of Rights. In 1977, Gov. Edmund Brown appointed Matthews to the California Heritage Preservation Commission and California State Historic Records Advisory Board. She contributed to the establishment of an archives and records management program for the City of Los Angeles in 1979. While a member of the Los Angeles 200 Committee in 1981, Matthews proposed and implemented the construction of a historical plaque detailing the names, ages, and races of the city founders.
    Matthews died in Mercer Island, Washington on June 23, 2003.
    In 2003, the Los Angeles Historical Society established the annual Miriam Matthews Award in her honor. The Los Angeles Public Library Hyde Park branch was renamed for her in 2004.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of clippings, correspondence, photographs, reports, ephemera, and other materials relating to intellectual freedom; Matthews' work at Los Angeles Public Library; her involvement with professional, civic, community, and historical organizations; and her research on African American and California history. The collection is especially strong in materials about Titus Alexander, Ralph J. Bunche, Mary Ellen Pleasant, and William Grant Still.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Committee work and professional memberships
    2. Los Angeles Public Library
    3. Personal papers
    4. Subject files.
    Original file titles were preserved whenever possible.

    Related Material

    Related Oral History

    The following oral history is available through the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research:

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6154247 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971.
    Matthews, Miriam --Archives.
    Pleasant, Mary Ellen, 1814-1904.
    Still, William Grant, 1895-1978.
    African American women librarians--California--Los Angeles--Archives.