Jean Blackwell Hutson

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Jean Blackwell Hutson
Jean Blackwell

(1914-09-07)September 7, 1914
Summerfield, Florida, United States
DiedFebruary 4, 1998(1998-02-04) (aged 83)
Harlem Hospital, New York
Alma materBarnard College,
Columbia University School of Library Science
OccupationLibrarian, curator, writer, archivist
Spouse(s)Andy Razaf (1939–1947)
John Hutson (1950-1998)
ChildrenJean Francis (d. 1992)
Parent(s)Paul O. Blackwell (farmer)
Sarah Myers Blackwell (elementary schoolteacher)

Jean Blackwell Hutson (born Jean Blackwell; September 7, 1914 – February 4, 1998[1][2][3][4] [5] was an African-American librarian, archivist, writer, curator, educator, and later chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.[6][1][2][7][3][4] The Schomburg Center dedicated their Research and Reference Division in honor of Jean Blackwell Hutson in honor of Ms. Hutson.[8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Jean Blackwell Hutson was born in Summerfield, Florida and moved to Baltimore, Maryland with her mother in 1918.[1][2][7][3][4][6] She graduated valedictorian from Frederick Douglass High School in 1929.[1][2][7][3][4][6]   Jean continued her education at the University of Michigan, studying psychiatry, and transferred to Barnard College, where she graduated with an English degree, Bachelor of Arts in 1935. [1][2][7][3][4][6] After completing her Bachelor's degree, she applied to Enoch Pratt Library Training School, but was not admitted[10]. She brought a lawsuit against Enoch Pratt which she ultimately won, believing that she was denied entrance because of her race[10]. Ms. Hutson eventually received her Master's degree in Library Science from Columbia University in 1936.[1][2][7] [3][3][4][5][6] She also acquired her teaching certificate from Columbia University in 1941. [6][7]

Ms. Hutson was married twice, to Andy Razaf 1939-1947[1][2][7][3][6] and John Hutson 1952-1957. [1][3][6] She had a daughter, Jean Frances Hutson. [1][3]


Through the social and cultural prejudices against people of color and women, common at the time, Jean Blackwell Hutson made great gains in her professional career. [7] From 1936 to 1984, she worked at multiple branches of the New York Public Library system, [1][2][7][3][4][5] with a brief period as a school librarian at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland. [2] Her most notable professional position was as curator and chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture [1][2][7][3][4][5] during which time she developed the Schomburg Dictionary Catalog. [4] The collection at the Schomburg Center grew under her guidance to become, "a major source for research on Black history and culture". [5]

In the 1940s, during her time at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Hutson organized the Schomburg Corporation, a non-profit organization that lobbied for funding for the research center[11]. Hutson was instrumental in marketing efforts that secured state, federal, and foundation grants for the following decades[12]. These funds went towards preservation, assessment of the collection, and building a new facility[12]. Under her charge, the center became well known during the Civil rights and Black Panther movements[12] and in 1980, the new facility, designed by Max Bond was opened to the public[12].

While she served at the Schomburg Center, Hutson also took on an adjunct professorship at the City College of New York[10]. At the behest of her friend and former Schomburg page, Joseph Borome, a librarian at Columbia University, Hutson taught courses in Black Studies at the City College from 1962-1971[10]. She resigned from the role after supporters of Black studies called for a more radical approach[10].

Her teaching gave way to a personal invitation from Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana, for Hutson to assist with the development and creation of the African Collection at the University of Ghana.[13] She took the opportunity to move to Ghana where she spent the years of 1964-1965 [5] [7] as Assistant Librarian in charge of Africana[10]. During this year, Hutson relished living in a place where she was not discriminated against because of her race. She also found professional success in making the Africana collection inclusive of Africans in Africa and also the African diaspora[10].

Hutson retired in 1980 but still remained active.[13] She was still actively involved in organizations such as Information Science in the 1980s. She served on the Task Force on Library and Information Services to Cultural Minorities of the National Commission on Libraries.[5] During her retirement she wrote a chapter on the Schomburg Center in Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of Black History.[13]

Merits and involvement[edit]

During Hutson's lifetime, she was involved in many different civic, social, professional and cultural organizations. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, [3] the NAACP, the American Library Association, the African Studies Association and the Urban League.[3] Throughout her lifetime she received numerous awards. In 1966, Hutson received the Annual Heritage Award of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History[4] and 1974 , she received Black Heroes Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service Commemorating the Lives of Malcolm.[14] Additional awards received are as follows:

  • Honorary Doctorate King Memorial College [6]
  • 1989 "I Dream A World Exhibit" [6]


On February 4, 1998, Jean Blackwell Hutson died at Harlem Hospital in New York City at age 83.[1][15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Smith, Dinitia (February 7, 1998). "Jean Hutson, Schomburg Chief, Dies at 83".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nerd, Book (15 February 2015). "Little Known Black Librarian Facts: Jean Blackwell Hutson (1914-1998): Culture Keeper Extraordinaire".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Barlow-Ochshorn, Sarah (2018-05-18). "Librarian and Archivist of Black Culture: Jean Blackwell Hutson". Barnard Archives. Wordpress.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gunn, A. (1994). "Hutson, Jean Blackwell." Black Women in America. Vol. 1, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, p. 603.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Easterbrook, David L. (1999). "Jean Blackwell Hutson, 1914-1998". ASA News. 32 (2): 5. doi:10.1017/S0002021400016388.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gubert, B. (2006)."Hutson, Jean Blackwell." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, edited by Colin A. Palmer, 2nd ed., Vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, p. 1085.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hildenbrand, Suzanne (2000). "Library Feminism and Library Women's History: Activism and Scholarship, Equity and Culture". Libraries & Culture. 35 (1): 51–65. JSTOR 25548798.
  8. ^ "NYPL Locations". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  9. ^ Librarians, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research Division Reference. "LibGuides: Schomburg Archival Collections on Microfilm: Home". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson-Cooper, Glendora (1996). "African-American Historical Continuity: Jean Blackwell Hutson and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture". In Hildebrand, Suzanne (ed.). Reclaiming the American library past : Writing the Women In. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Pub. pp. 27–51. ISBN 1567502334. OCLC 33333323.
  11. ^ "The Schomburg Corporation". Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  12. ^ a b c d Howard, Sharon. "Hutson, Jean Blackwell". Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  13. ^ a b c Easterbrook, David L. (14 July 2016). "Jean Blackwell Hutson, 1914-1998". Asa News. 32 (2): 5. doi:10.1017/S0002021400016388.
  14. ^ "Jean Blackwell Hutson facts, information, pictures | articles about Jean Blackwell Hutson". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  15. ^ "Jean Blackwell Hutson, Ex-Chief of Schomburg Center, Dies". Jet. Vol. 93 no. 13. February 23, 1998. p. 17. Retrieved 9 November 2018.