In 1919 Ruth Brown was hired as the director of the Bartlesville [Oklahoma] Public Library. In 1946, Brown helped established the Committee on the Practice of Democracy which was the first Congress of Racial Equality group in that part of the country. In a nationally reported case, Brown was dismissed from her job as head librarian in 1950 due to the library carrying what was then deemed to be subversive materials: Two left-wing magazines and Soviet Russia Today. During the city council hearing to discuss this issue, questions arose about her personal life, particularly her activities with racial integration. Brown received her termination notice over the phone, never receiving written confirmation. She appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, but eventually lost her case. Brown later taught at the Piney Woods School, an African-American junior college in Mississippi for three years. The Ruth W. Brown case was the basis for the 1956 Bette Davis movie, Storm Center. Ruth W. Brown died in 1975.

Finding Aid: Ruth W. Brown Collection, 1949-1979 (MS113)


Browse the Ruth W. Brown Papers, 1891-1976 Collections:

Bartlesville Public Library, Board Files of Russell W. Davis, 1950

Ruth W. Brown Documents