Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown by Louise S. Robbins

History, what we know of the past, is often told by the victors. Having transcribed countless interviews, faithfully scoured dusty files and coils of microfilm, Louise S. Robbins forms a more complete account of Ruth Brown’s career as a librarian. The text is a scholarly endeavor to bring about a more accurate picture of a “perfect town” that wasn’t so perfect after all. It’s a true story about racism and about standing up for what you believe. About censorship and the public library’s role towards it at a critical time in American history.

An abbreviated summary: “In 1950 Ruth W. Brown, librarian at the Bartlesville Public Library, was dismissed from her job after thirty years of exemplary service, ostensibly because she had circulated subversive materials. In truth, however, Brown was fired because she was active in a group affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality.”

If you are interested in the civil rights movement, information and library science, libraries generally, censorship or American history I definitely recommend this book to you. It is told like an elongated form of investigative journalism and tends to be fact heavy. What I most enjoyed about Ruth Brown’s personality was how, despite her appearance, she was anything but a stereotypical librarian (especially for her day).

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001     Pages: 256
Rating: 3 Stars     Source: purchased


  1. I'm definitely interested in all of those things! Sounds like a good book.

  2. Yeah, it's a great introduction to the history of American libraries, the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom. You can borrow it if you like. I read it for class but don't expect I'll need it again anytime soon.