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The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library
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The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  84 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In 1950 Ruth W. Brown, librarian at the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Public Library, was summarily 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 had become active in promoting racial equality and had helped form a group affiliated with the Congress of Rac ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 2001 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published 1999)
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Tonya Severson
Oct 10, 2009 Tonya Severson rated it liked it
Although the book describes events that occurred in the 1950s, similar dangers face intellectual freedom today, as demonstrated by the hastily pushed and adopted "PATRIOT" Act.

Miss Brown, a librarian in Bartlesville OK, was investigated for circulating communist propaganda (periodicals like The Nation, or New Republic were the most "un-American" they found) during the McCarthy era, and ultimately fired. In reality, she was being punished for her social activism--inviting a black woman to join he
May 16, 2014 Kristin rated it really liked it
As always, Robbins weaves a captivating tale from her thorough research.
Dec 26, 2010 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I was disappointed in this book about a librarian whose civil rights activism resulted in the loss of her job and a town run amok with accusations of communism. The book presents the facts, but that's about all it does. A listing of dates and times and facts and figures, it's hard to get through the "facts" to the human elements. For me, ultimately, this book failed because of that. As a book, this would have made an excellent scholarly article.
Dec 16, 2010 Stevie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I had to read this for school (and it's my professor's book). All the same, I really enjoyed it -- the writing was livelier than your typical academic press biography-with-a-larger-theme, and it thoroughly painted a picture of the political climate at the start of the civil rights movement. I also appreciated the personal difficulties that Robbins encountered in putting the book together.
Jan 16, 2016 Karl rated it really liked it
A great book! And written by one of the professors in my LIS program. What appears, on the surface, to be a standard-fare McCarthy-era case of panicked censorship is revealed to be a far more nuanced mix of early civil rights activism, gender politics, and social power struggle. Reads like a work of fiction, and provided the basis for the 1956 movie "Storm Center."
Aug 19, 2010 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in how the power brokers of Barlesville, Oklahoma, using the guise of McCarthyist anti-communism, were able to fire librarian Ruth Brown in 1950, and scatter or silence her supporters, for promoting racial equality.

A fascinating, although somewhat academic, account of an important struggle within the history of librarianship in the United States.
Oct 19, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it
Feb 02, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
*phew* This book was dry. So dry. Very much "just the facts, ma'am." Can you jazz it up a little? This is coming from a person who adores to read about histories and libraries.

Ms. Brown is quite admirable, if very imperfect, in her attempt to serve everyone in her community, including the marginalized African Americans.
Jun 19, 2008 Ann rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Librarians/Political Interests
Although I appreciate the story and the struggle, I was a bit disappointed in the 2 dimensional characters. I also would have liked to have read more about Ruth Brown and her story. However, at the end of the book, the author makes a point to inform the reader about her difficulties in obtaining information. Scary story, nonetheless.
Sep 24, 2010 Cara rated it liked it
Robbins does a smooth job of connecting a librarian's dismissal in a small town in Oklahoma in the 1950s to the greater social and racial conflicts of that time period. The whole book has a personal feel to it, from the descriptions of Ruth by her adopted daughters to Robbins' own story about the experience of researching it.
Was Ruth Brown fired from her position as public librarian in 1950 (after 30 years of service) for circulating Communist materials, or for promoting racial equality? Either way, Brown got screwed but helped shape the Library Bill of Rights, our views on censorship, women, equality, and intellectual freedom.
Dec 01, 2008 Erica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Public Librarians, Library students, anyone interested in intellectual freedom
Recommended to Erica by: Loretta Gaffney
A must-read for anyone who wants to go into public library work. I read it for my Intellectual Freedom class and was fascinated and horrified by it. I learned a lot about the social climate of the 1950s and a lot about how a corporation can influence the town.
Feb 04, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: library_services
segregation, communism, youth services, intellectual freedom, censorship, middle america, corporate america, fear mongering
Sep 14, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
For a book that I had to read for college class, I was entranced by it. A very well written look at librarians!
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Dec 27, 2015
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