Matthew Griffis

Academic Historian

Dr. Matthew Griffis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi. He studies public libraries as community spaces, library buildings as social architecture, and the history of libraries in North America. In 2016, he began a three-year project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) about the twelve, Carnegie-funded segregated public libraries that opened across the American south ca. 1908-1924.

Free Colored Library, Knoxville, Tennessee (1918-1961)

The Free Colored Library of Knoxville, Tennessee was a segregated public library that opened in 1918 and closed 43 years later in 1961. It was the first municipally-supported library for African-Americans in Knoxville, Tennessee and one of twelve segregated public libraries opened in the South … Read MoreFree Colored Library, Knoxville, Tennessee (1918-1961)

Dryades Branch Library, New Orleans, Louisiana (1915-1965)

The Dryades Branch of the New Orleans Public Library was the first municipally-supported library for New Orleans’s black citizens and one of a dozen public libraries in the South established for African Americans between 1908 and 1924 and funded by Andrew Carnegie. Opened in 1915, … Read MoreDryades Branch Library, New Orleans, Louisiana (1915-1965)

Carnegie Negro Library, Greensboro, North Carolina (1924-1963)

The Carnegie Negro Library of Greensboro, North Carolina, a free public library for African Americans, opened in 1924. It stood at 900 East Washington Street on the Bennett College campus and was the last of twelve public libraries for African Americans opened in the South … Read MoreCarnegie Negro Library, Greensboro, North Carolina (1924-1963)

Negro Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee (1916-1949)

The Negro Public Library (later the Negro Branch of the Nashville Public Library) operated for over thirty years as a segregated library facility in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the city’s first public library for African Americans and one of only a dozen segregated public libraries … Read MoreNegro Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee (1916-1949)

Colored Carnegie Library, Houston, Texas (1913-1961)

The Colored Carnegie Library was a segregated branch of the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library (later the Houston Public Library). It opened in 1913 in Houston’s Fourth Ward and was one of the first public libraries for African-Americans west of the Mississippi River. It was … Read MoreColored Carnegie Library, Houston, Texas (1913-1961)

Cherry Street Library, Evansville, Indiana (1914-1955)

The Cherry Street Library was a segregated branch of the Evansville Public Library (now Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library) located at 515 Cherry Street in Evansville, Indiana. It was the first free public library built north of the Ohio River exclusively for African Americans and one … Read MoreCherry Street Library, Evansville, Indiana (1914-1955)

Carnegie Library, Mound Bayou, Mississippi (1910-1935)

Mound Bayou Library, 1910 Image Ownership: Public domain Constructed in 1910 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie’s library development program, the Carnegie Library of Mound Bayou, Mississippi was the first free public library intended for African Americans in the state of Mississippi and one of the first African … Read MoreCarnegie Library, Mound Bayou, Mississippi (1910-1935)

East Henry Street Carnegie Library, Savannah, Georgia (1914- )

Image Courtesy of Matthew Griffis The East Henry Street Carnegie Library is a branch of the Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah, Georgia. It originally opened in 1914 as the Colored Carnegie Library, one of twelve segregated public libraries in the south funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and … Read MoreEast Henry Street Carnegie Library, Savannah, Georgia (1914- )

Auburn Branch Library, Atlanta, Georgia (1921-1959)

Atlanta Auburn Branch Library, 1921 Image Ownership: Public domain The Auburn Branch Library was a segregated branch of the Carnegie Library of Atlanta, Georgia (now the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System). Opened in 1921, it was the first free public library in Atlanta for African Americans and one of twelve … Read MoreAuburn Branch Library, Atlanta, Georgia (1921-1959)

Eastern Colored Branch Library, Louisville, Kentucky (1914-1975)

The Eastern Colored Branch was a segregated public library located at 600 Lampton Street in Louisville, Kentucky. Opened in 1914, it was the second of the city’s “colored” libraries and served Louisville’s east end. The Western Colored Branch, which opened in 1905, was the first free public library in the United … Read MoreEastern Colored Branch Library, Louisville, Kentucky (1914-1975)