Augusta Baker

Augusta Braxton Baker

Augusta Braxton Baker was born April 1, 1911 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died February 23, 1998 in Columbia, South Carolina. She was a librarian and storyteller, a lioness of children's literature.


Augusta Braxton's parents were schoolteachers who instilled in her a love of reading. At the age of sixteen, she was graduated from the (racially segregated) black high school where her father taught.


She entered the University of Pittsburgh, and was married at the end of her sophomore year.


She completed her education at the New York College for Teachers in Albany, NY, earning a B.A. degree in education (1933) and a B.S. in library science(1934.)

New York

Mrs. Baker taught for a few years, until she was hired in 1937 as the children's librarian at was then 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, in Harlem.

In 1939, that branch began an effort to find literature for children that portrayed black people as something other than servile buffoons speaking in a rude dialect. This effort led to the publication of the first of a number of bibliographies of books for and about black children. She also authors and publishers to produce, and libraries to acquire, books that depicted Negroes in a favorable light.

She was appointed storytelling specialist and assistant coordinator of children's services in 1953.

In 1961 she became coordinator of children's services, and the first African-American librarian in an administrative position in the New York Public Library. In this role, she oversaw children's programs in the entire NYPL and set policies for them.

She also figured prominently in the American Library Association's Children's Services Division, and was president of Association for Library Service to Children. Mrs. Baker served on the committee that awarded the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Medal.

In 1974, Augusta Baker retired as Children's Coordinator of the New York Public Library.

Columbia, SC

Mrs Baker was appointed storyteller-in-residence at the University of South Carolina in 1980, the first such position in any American university. Since 1986, the University of South Carolina College of Library and Information Science and the Richland County, South Carolina Public Library have annually celebrated "A(ugusta) Baker's Dozen: A Celebration of Stories" in her honor.


(from Janice M. Del Negor, Editor, Bulletin for children's books)

  • Come hither! : papers on children's literature and librarianship ; by Augusta Baker ... [et al.] ; Yeasayers Press, 1966
  • Black experience in children's books, selected by Augusta Baker. Cover design by Ezra Jack Keats. New York Public Library, 1971
  • Books about Negro life for children. New York Public Library, 1963
  • Books about Negro life for children. New York Public Library, 1961
  • Books about Negro life for children. New York Public Library, 1957
  • Golden lynx, and other tales, selected by Augusta Baker. Illus. by Johannes Troyer. Lippincott, 1960
  • Storytelling : art and technique / by Augusta Baker and Ellin Greene. Bowker, 1987
  • Storytelling : art and technique / by Augusta Baker and Ellin Greene. Bowker, 1977
  • Talking tree; fairy tales from 15 lands. Illus. by Johannes Troyer. Lippincott, 1955
  • Young years; best loved stories and poems for little children; edited by Augusta Baker. Parents' Magazine Educational Press; Home Library Press, 1960
  • Young years library. 1963
  • Aids to choosing books for children. Children's Book Council, 1967
  • Storytelling : art and technique / Ellin Greene ; foreword by Augusta Baker. Bowker, 1996
  • New York Public Library. Office of Children's Services. Black experience in children's audiovisual materials. 1973
  • Rollins, Charlemae Hill. We build together; a reader's guide to Negro life and literature for elementary and high school use [edited by] Charlemae Rollins. Contributors: Augusta Baker [and others] National Council of Teachers of English, 1967
  • Rollock, Barbara. Black experience in children's books / selected by Barbara Rollock. New York Public Library, 1974.
  • Storytelling. [Sound recording] New York, Children's Book Council, p1975.
  • Uncle Bouqui, folk tales from Haiti; from Uncle Bouqui of Haiti. [Sound recording] Folkways Records, [1956].

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