Daniel Alexander Payne Murray

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Daniel A. P. Murray
Daniel murray.jpg
BornMarch 3, 1852
DiedDecember 31, 1925 (age 73)
OccupationAssistant Librarian, Library of Congress
Years active1871-1922
Spouse(s)Anna Evans Murray
RelativesMary Evans Wilson, (sister-in-law), Lillian Evanti, (niece)

Daniel Alexander Payne Murray (1852-1925) was an American bibliographer, author, politician, and historian. He also worked as an assistant librarian at the Library of Congress.[1]


Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 3, 1852. In 1861, he went to work at the United States Senate Restaurant managed by his brother who was also a caterer. He joined the professional staff of the Library of Congress in 1871. He was eighteen years old, and only the second Black American to work for the Library. Murray became the personal assistant to the Librarian of Congress, Ainsworth Rand Spofford at the age of nineteen.

By 1881, he had risen to become assistant librarian, a position he held for forty-one years. Murray married educator Anna Jane Evans (1858 - 1955) on April 2, 1879, with whom he had seven children (five lived to adulthood); the couple became a major force in the social and civic life of the District of Columbia.[2]

African American writings[edit]

Murray began to compile a collection of books and pamphlets authored by African Americans at the request of Herbert Putnam, the successor to Spofford. The collection of work by "Negro Authors" was to be an part of the The Exhibit of American Negroes at the 1900 Paris Exposition. In 1900 Murray published a list of the collections' holdings to date and appealed for additions to the list through donations.

Within several months, his list had grown to eleven hundred titles. The Library of Congress's "Colored Authors' Collection" originated from his efforts. Now known as the "Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection", it contains works dating from 1821 by such authors as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, and Alexander Crummell. Murray planned to expand his collection and create an encyclopedia of African-American achievement; unfortunately, the project never received sufficient support to become a reality.

African American affairs[edit]

Murray was widely acknowledged as an authority on African-American concerns. He was the first African-American member of the Washington Board of Trade, and he testified before the House of Representatives about Jim Crow laws and the migration of African-Americans from rural locations to urban areas. He was twice a delegate to the Republican National Convention and was a member of many other councils and organizations.

He was also a prolific author, and a frequent contributor to African American journals, in particular The Voice of the Negro. He was also well known for his writings on African American history, including his monumental but uncompleted Historical and Biographical Encyclopedia of the Colored Race. Murray's personal library of African American works was bequeathed to the Library of Congress upon his death March 31, 1925.


  1. ^ Taylor, Elizabeth Dowling (2017). The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era. Amistad. ISBN 978-0062346094.
  2. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). "Anna Evans Murray (1857-1955): Kindergarten advocate, educator, clubwoman, civic leader". Notable Black American Women, Book 2. VNR AG. p. 492. ISBN 9780810391772.

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