Dulcina DeBerry

Photo from the Huntsville Historical Review, Volume 22, #2, p. 20.

Photo from Dulcina DeBerry: Door Opener by Missouri L. Torrence
 First Director of the Dewberry Branch Library

Born:June 12, 1878, York, South Carolina
Died:December 29, 1969, Cleveland, Ohio


•  Mrs. DeBerry's parents moved to Huntsville with her younger siblings after she had established herself independently. But when her ailing mother needed care, she came to Huntsville in support of that cause.
     She was accustomed to a busy life as an educator, librarian, mother and pastor's wife. She soon found herself looking for ways to make constructive use of her spare time.
     On her first trip to the Huntsville's city library, she was told there were rules prohibiting access for African Americans. But Mrs. Beamguard, city librarian, agreed to take responsibility for an exception in Mrs. DeBerry's case.
     Mrs. DeBerry went home with three books, but the arrangement troubled her. She thought access to this important resource should be free without special arrangements.
     She prepared for a conversation with Mrs. Beamguard but she never had to make her points. When she returned, arrangements had been made for her to talk with Mr. Hoyt Galvin, Director of the Huntsville Public Library.
     "Mr. Galvin opened the discussion by explaining the library project. He explained to her that W.P.A, Works Progress Administration, initiated a program in 1935 to relieve unemployment. The program, later renamed Works Project Administration, would sponsor worthy public projects. The opening of a reading room for Negroes could qualify as one of its projects. The W.P.A.'s policy provided the books and the librarian and required that the community acquire the housing and furnishing."
     Mrs. DeBerry said she thought Lakeside Methodist Church would make some space available for a reading room.
     Based on that arrangement, Dulcina DeBerry became the first librarian servicing the African American population in Huntsville. - Torrence

•  Daughter of Henry and Violet Torrence - Huntsville Historical Review

•  "The Director of Regional Library Services, Mr. Hoyt Galvin, gave Mrs. DeBerry a key to the church basement, told her to see what she could find and to make something of it if she could. She found a dark, damp room furnished with two ugly unpainted tables, two rough benches, and a schoolroom desk with no chair. The holdings, 27 juvenile volumes, 39 books for adults, and 10 used magazines, were stored in a large unpainted drygoods box. Mrs. DeBerry had ten days to get all in order for the library opening, June 10, 1940. She and her helpers, two high school boys, painted the six pieces of furniture and thoroughly cleaned the basement. The minister's wife, Mrs. Z. K. Jackson, donated a chair for the librarian to use. A group of young girls gave pots of growing flowers to decorate the window seats." - Huntsville Historical Review

•  Mrs. DeBerry served as librarian from 1940 until 1951 when she moved back to her home in Raleigh, NC. During her tenure in Huntsville, the collection, circulation, and conditions improved dramatically. - Huntsville Historical Review

Related Links:

•  Amazon - You may purchase here a biography titled "Dulcina DeBerry: Door Opener" by Missouri L. Torrence

•  Flickr - Photo of an inscription in the front of the book about Dulcina DeBerry by BamaLibraryLady November 14, 2008.

•  HMdb.org - Dulcina DeBerry was mentioned on the Historical Marker at the original site of Lakeside United Methodist Church

•  Huntsville Historical Review - Article titled: "The Dulcina DeBerry Library" by Ann Geiger Maulsby in The Huntsville Historical Review, Volumne 22, No. 2, Summer-Fall 1996, pages 20-5.

•  Torrence - Biography of Mrs. DeBerry titled "Dulcina DeBerry: Door Opener" by Missouri L Torrence, © 1996.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Huntsville Historical Review