February 14, 2007
Exhibit examines life of pioneering African-American librarian and teacher
A new exhibit at the University of South Carolina pays tribute to librarian and teacher Ethel Martin Bolden, who helped transform the lives of countless students in the Midlands, beginning in the 1940s.
"Ethel Bolden: A Pioneering Spirit" is on display at the South Caroliniana Library through March 31. The exhibit draws from Bolden's papers, which are at the Caroliniana library.
A public reception to celebrate the exhibit will be held 4:30 - 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the library. While it is free, a response is requested. Contact Ann Troyer at 803-777-3131, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bolden taught and worked as a librarian in Columbia's public schools for 39 years. She began her career at Waverly Elementary School, where she established the first all African-American public-school library in Columbia. She went on to establish similar libraries at other African-American public schools. Much of her career was spent at Dreher High School, where she was one of the first African Americans on the staff.
Her leadership transcended the library community. She was active in numerous civic committees and projects, including the National Council of Negro Women, the board of trustees of Richland County Public Library, the board of directors for the South Carolina State Museum and the National Council of Women of the Presbyterian Churches.
Bolden worked to improve race relations in Columbia, particularly through her involvement in the South Carolina Council on Human Relations. In speaking of the council's work, she once said, "We did more to bring the races together than people give us credit for doing."
Even after Bolden retired from Dreher High School in 1982, she continued her commitment to service and supported many grassroots efforts to improve the social, economic and political condition of
communities in South Carolina. She was a spokesperson for citizens' rights and responsibility until her death in 2002.
The South Caroliniana Library is located on USC's historic Horseshoe. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 - 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. For more information, contact Elizabeth West at 803-777-5158.