Charlemae Hill Rollins

1897 - 1979

Author, Librarian, Storyteller, & Teacher


Charlemae Hill Rollins
Charlemae was born on June 20, 1897, in Yazoo City, Mississippi.  She moved to Chicago after marrying Joseph H. Rollins and began working in the Chicago Public Library in 1927.  In 1932 she was put in charge of the Children's Room in the new George Cleveland Hall Branch Library.  She attended a number of classes on librarianship at Columbia University and at the University of Chicago.  In 1974 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Columbia College in Chicago.  She chaired the Newbery-Caldecott Committee from 1956 to 1957 and served as President of the Children's Services Division from 1957 to 1958.  She was one of those rare librarians who believed that storytelling skills were more important than the Dewey Decimal System.  She wrote a number of books on famous African Americans and the African American way of life because she felt there was a dearth of materials on those two topics.

Photograph from The ALA Yearbook: A Review of Library Events of 1979 (Rollins, Charlemae Hill section, 1980, p. 229).

  • Received Coretta King Award, 1971
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, Columbia College, Chicago, 1974
  • American Brotherhood Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1952
  • Grolier Society Award, American Library Association, 1955
  • Constance Lindsay Skinner Award, Woman's National Book Association, 1970
  • 3 Negro Centennial Awards
  • Honorary Membership, American Library Association, 1972
Selected Works
  • We Build Together, National Council of English Teachers, 1938
  • They Showed the Way
  • Famous Negro-American Entertainers of Stage and Screen
  • Christmas Gif'
  • Black Troubador: Langston Hughes - Coretta Scott King Award Book
  • Charlemae Rollins - Librarian and storyteller. (1974, September). American Libraries, 5 (8), 413.
  • 100 of the most important leaders we had in the 20th century. (1999, December). American Libraries, 30 (11), 38-48.
  • Rollins, Charlemae Hill. (1980). The ALA yearbook: A review of library events of 1979 (Vo1. 5, p. 229). Chicago: American Library Association.

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Last Modified: May 6, 2002