Driving Past Jim Crow; The Bookmobile of Delta Sigma Theta

Happy National Bookmobile Day! Please enjoy this repost from the Bookmobiles: A History blog. It includes a brief history of the book mobile operated by my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

Bookmobiles: A History


The bookmobile of Delta Sigma Theta, circa 1956.

If African-Americans had any library service in the Jim Crow South, it was either in a
separate reading room at the library, or more often, at a completely separate
branch. These “colored” libraries inevitably were inferior, underfunded and
often given books the white libraries no longer wanted. African-Americans
frequently took it upon themselves to organize libraries of their own, the
stacks often housed in schools and churches. Blacks using segregated services
were the lucky ones; a 1954 study revealed two thirds of southern
African-Americans had no access to libraries at all.

The most ambitious book program to overcome racial barriers was the National Library Project organized by the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta, launched in 1945. Each
Delta chapter purchased 10 books at $2.50 a piece, with the Grand Chapter paying
for the portable book baskets that would be taken to the various deposit…

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