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Henrietta Smith

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Information about Henrietta Smith

Profile image of Henrietta Smith

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Library Science Professor
School Media Librarian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chicken Wings
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere New
Favorite Quote:
Take Time To Smell The Roses.

Birthplace

Born:
5/2/1922
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Library Science Professor
School Media Librarian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Chicken Wings
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere New
Favorite Quote:
Take Time To Smell The Roses.

Birthplace

Born:
5/2/1922
Birth Location:
New York
See how Henrietta Smith is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Library science professor and school media librarian Henrietta Mays Smith was born on May 2, 1922, in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York. Smith is the daughter of Nettie Johnson Mays, a domestic worker, and Henry Lucas Mays, a chef who worked on riverboats on the Hudson. Smith attended Hunter College, studying English and history. She earned her B.A. degree from Hunter College in 1943 and in 1946, she received her B.S.L.S. degree from Columbia University. Smith then moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where she served as a cataloguer at Florida A&M University for the next two years. Dr. Smith received her M.S.L.S. degree from Columbia University in 1959.

Smith started her career working for Florida A&M University's Library as a cataloger and later returned to New York to complete her M.S.L.S. degree. She also worked at the Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library as a children's librarian where she become interested in storytelling and the power of oral traditions. In 1949, she married Isaiah Courtney Smith, a young civil rights lawyer. Returning once again to Florida, Smith worked for Broward County Public Schools, as a school media specialist. In 1975, at the age of fifty three, she received her Ph. D. degree from the University of Miami and joined the faculty of the Florida Atlantic University's School of Education. After ten years at Florida Atlantic, she left the institution and joined the faculty of the University of South Florida's School of Library Science where she was the first and only African American faculty member on campus. She specialized in children's librarianship and the art of storytelling.

Since retiring in 1993, Smith has been remained active in the library science field. She has sat on many American Library Association (ALA) selection committees for several literary awards such as the Coretta Scott King Awards, the Caldecott Award, and the Newbery Award. In 1994, she edited the book The Coretta Scott King Book Awards: From Vision to Reality. She has been a board member of the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME) and the Florida Library Association (FLA) and has continued her general membership. She has also been involved with Storytellers Association, an association which teaches and develops multicultural storytelling and the oral tradition. In 2000, she wrote the introduction to Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Pictorial Tribute to the Negro National Anthem.

Smith lives in Florida with her husband, I.C. Smith, now a retired judge. She has two adult children, Cynthia Smith Jackson and Robin Smith. In 2008, she was honored by the American Library Association (ALA) as the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children's (ASCL) Distinguished Service Award for Smith's accomplishments and contributions to children's librarianship.

Henrietta Mays Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2007.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henrietta Smith's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henrietta Smith lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henrietta Smith describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henrietta Smith describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henrietta Smith describes her upbringing in New York City's Harlem neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henrietta Smith remembers her parents' cooking
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henrietta Smith remembers her relationship with her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Henrietta Smith describes her family's holiday traditions
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Henrietta Smith describes her mother's emphasis on etiquette
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Henrietta Smith remembers her lessons in elocution
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Henrietta Smith talks about her sister
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Henrietta Smith describes her father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Henrietta Smith describes her neighborhood in New York City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Henrietta Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Henrietta Smith remembers the Grace Congregational Church of Harlem
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Henrietta Smith recalls her experiences at P.S. 81 in New York City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Henrietta Smith describes her early aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Henrietta Smith describes her mother's parenting
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Henrietta Smith remembers Morris High School in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Henrietta Smith describes her experiences at New York City's Hunter College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Henrietta Smith remembers attending Hunter College with Ruby Dee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Henrietta Smith remembers volunteering at the 135th Street Library in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Henrietta Smith talks about the 135th Street Library
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Henrietta Smith recalls attending library school at Columbia University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Henrietta Smith recalls working as a cataloguer at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Henrietta Smith recalls her return to the New York Public Library system
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Henrietta Smith describes the work of Augusta Braxton Baker
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Henrietta Smith recalls the discrimination faced by African American authors
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Henrietta Smith remembers the notable African American librarians
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Henrietta Smith recalls her storytelling lessons from Augusta Braxton Baker
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Henrietta Smith recalls the Hans Christian Andersen storytelling hour
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Henrietta Smith remembers Jean Blackwell Hutson
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Henrietta Smith describes her duties as a children's librarian
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Henrietta Smith remembers meeting and marrying her husband
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Henrietta Smith remembers the birth of her first daughter
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Henrietta Smith describes her husband's law practice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Henrietta Smith remembers moving to Delray Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Henrietta Smith describes her work for the public schools of Broward County, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Henrietta Smith talks about her doctoral studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Henrietta Smith remembers her tenure at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Henrietta Smith describes working at University of South Florida
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Henrietta Smith remembers E.J. Josey
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Henrietta Smith recalls the creation of the Coretta Scott King Award
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Henrietta Smith describes the John Steptoe New Talent Award
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Henrietta Smith talks about the Coretta Scott King Awards Book
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Henrietta Smith talks about illustrator Ashley Bryan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Henrietta Smith describes the African American Research Library and Cultural Center
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Henrietta Smith remembers Doris Clark
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Henrietta Smith remembers Lucille Thomas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Henrietta Smith remembers Charlemae Rollins
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Henrietta Smith remembers Virginia Lacy Jones
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Henrietta Smith remembers Effie Lee Morris
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Henrietta Smith describes her involvement in Storytellers International
  • Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Henrietta Smith remembers telling stories with Blue Water
  • Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Henrietta Smith recalls the creation of the Pura Belpre Award
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Henrietta Smith shares her philosophy of storytelling
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Henrietta Smith talks about access to African American children's literature
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Henrietta Smith describes her concerns for children's literature
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Henrietta Smith shares her concerns for public libraries
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Henrietta Smith talks about the Negro National Anthem
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Henrietta Smith reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Henrietta Smith narrates her photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Henrietta Smith narrates her photographs, pt. 2