April 9, 2021
The HistoryMakers Digital Archive
Debuts in Los Angeles & Beyond
Jené Brown, LAPL      
 Los Angeles Central Library    
Dina Andrews  
The HistoryMakers is thrilled to announce that the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has recently joined growing group of public libraries that are subscribing to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. To celebrate, we virtually sat down with Jené Brown, LAPL’s Director at Large, and HistoryMaker Dina Ruth Andrews, Senior Field Deputy for Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson in LA’s 8th District, for a conversation ranging from the importance of preserving 20th century African American history to how the library has adapted to “pandemic challenges.”

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive (thehistorymakers.org)
Dina Andrews began by describing her initial impression of The HistoryMakers’ range of perspectives, “I appreciated that you did not just go for the super stars, you felt that we had a broader and more diverse group of African Americans within our communities that were HistoryMakers based off of the work that they did.” Andrews’ enthusiasm for our work is what brought The HistoryMakers to Jené Brown and the LAPL’s attention. Brown said that the digital archive’s “first person accounts [from] individuals from various backgrounds in various industries about their history, their impact, their communities, and the industries that they were a part of, sold me right away.”

Miriam Matthews, c. 1920s
Matthews at a LAPL mural unveiling, August 19, 1949
When The HistoryMakers asked Jené Brown about the LAPL’s African American holdings, she mentioned that, while there is no specific branch or collection dedicated to African American holdings, there is, however, both a branch and a collection named after Miriam Matthews, the first African American librarian employed by the LAPL in 1927. Two years later, in 1929, she was named the librarian in charge at the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch, named in honor of the poet and Native Americans rights activist, Helen Hunt Jackson. For the next twenty years, Matthews would remain the only African American librarian employed by the Los Angeles Public Library. 

LAPL’s Miriam Matthews Branch, 2019
It was at the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch that Miriam Matthews discovered a small collection of books by and about African Americans. In her own words, “that's the first I ever knew anything about Negro history.” Inspired, Matthews began building a personal collection of books and photographs documenting the history and contributions of African Americans in California. Her extensive collection became a resource used by librarians and researchers across the country.[1] In 2004, the Hyde Park Branch of the LAPL was renamed in honor of Miriam Matthews.

Jefferson Lewis Edmonds
Arianne Edmonds with a copy of The Liberator
When The HistoryMakers asked Jené Brown about LA’s contribution to black history, she told us that the LAPL is about to begin working on a project with the great-great granddaughter of Jefferson Lewis Edmonds. Edmonds’ story is fascinating - he was enslaved for the first twenty years of his life and, once freed, he became a teacher, political activist, newspaper editor, and in 1900 founded The Liberator, a news magazine for the African American community. His great-great granddaughter, Adrianna Edmonds, is the Founder of the J. L. Edmonds Project, an online educational resource focused on the life and work of J. L. Edmonds, The Liberator, and other black visionaries who laid the foundation for black innovation and true civic engagement in Los Angeles at the turn of the century.[2]

As with the pandemic, Brown explained that while all branches of the library remain closed to the public. However, she asserted that The HistoryMakers Digital Archive will enhance the current resources offered by the LAPL because “hearing stories is a very powerful way to learn about people who are unlike ourselves. That’s what the digital story archive, The HistoryMakers, can do - let folks take some time and hear someone else’s story.”

We hope you’ll take some time out of your day to explore our website and hear the vital stories of our HistoryMakers. Click here to learn more: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/digital-archives
Join Us!
My Clips
Dean John Unsworth
Special thanks to the University of Virginia’s Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Unsworth, as well as UVA students Bethany Mickel and Josh Thorud for creating these beautiful training videos for The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Final versions to follow.
If you’re interested in joining our family of subscribing institutions, please contact us at info@thehistorymakers.org. Our 93 subscribing institutions include:
Alabama A&M University

Arkansas State University
University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas at
Pine Bluff

Stanford University
University of California,

United States Air Force

Yale University

Delaware State University
University of Delaware

Florida A&M University 

Clark Atlanta University
Emory University
Morehouse College
Morehouse School of
Spelman College

Chicago State University
DePaul University
Dominican University
Northwestern University
Oakton Community College
University of Chicago
University of Illinois, Chicago

Indiana University,

University of Iowa

Eastern Kentucky University

Morgan State University

Boston University
Brandeis University
Harvard University
Lesley University
Northeastern University
Simmons University
Smith College
Tufts University
University of
Massachusetts, Amherst
University of
Massachusetts, Boston

Michigan State University
University of Michigan

Carleton College

Southeast Missouri State
Washington University in St.

Dartmouth College

Princeton University
Rutgers University

Columbia University
Cornell University
Lehman College - City
University of New York 
New York University
Stony Brook University

Duke University
Johnson C. Smith University
North Carolina A&T

Case Western Reserve
Ohio State University

University of Oregon

Bryn Mawr College
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Pennsylvania

Fisk University
Tennessee State University
Vanderbilt University

Prairie View A&M University 
Southern Methodist
Texas Southern University
University of Texas at Austin

College of William and Mary
University of Richmond
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth

American University
Georgetown University
Howard University

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Alaska Network Library
Boston Public Library
Charlotte Mecklenburg
Chicago Public Library
Cleveland Public Library
Detroit Public Library
Forsyth County Library
Free Library of Philadelphia
Houston Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library
Lucius Beebe Memorial
Miami-Dade Public Library
Milwaukee Public Library
New York Public Library 
Saint Paul Public Library 
The Library of Congress

Archbishop Alter High
Holy Redeemer Christian
The Hotchkiss School 
[1] “The Incomparable Miriam Matthews,” accessed March 19, 2021, /collections-resources/blogs/lapl/incomparable-miriam-matthews.
[2] “The Life of Jefferson L. Edmonds,” The J.L. Edmonds Project, accessed March 22, 2021, https://www.jledmondsproject.com/life-of-jefferson