Eldon Ray James Oral History

Starting early this fall, as the ALA Archives Graduate Assistant, I had the privilege of transcribing the oral history of Eldon Ray James, retired librarian, formerly incarcerated person, and advocate for the rights of incarcerated people. After transcribing over three hours of dialogue between Ray James and Deputy County Librarian at the Alameda County Library, Deb Sica, I believe I just got paid to listen to the most interesting story I’ve ever heard.

Ray James, before becoming a figurehead in the movement to secure information access for incarcerated people in the United States, served in Germany during the Vietnam War, ran for office in the Colorado House of Representatives, won awards for his amazing journalism in multiple publications, and was reportedly a part of the (unconfirmed) first interracial double date in Baylor University history. He did all of this before being sentenced to 70 months in prison for aiding in the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamines. Continue reading “Eldon Ray James Oral History”

The Rabbits’ Wedding: Emily W. Reed and the Freedom to Read

Black and white portrait of Emily Wheelock Reed
Emily Wheelock Reed

The Rabbits’ Wedding, by Garth Williams, is a children’s book about two rabbits getting married in a forest. While there doesn’t seem to be much to object about the book, in 1959, Alabama State Senator E.O. Eddins wanted it removed from Alabama public libraries. The reason was because the rabbits in the story were of different fur colors, black and white, and he viewed it as “integration propaganda.”

Emily Wheelock Reed, the Director of the Public Library Service Division of Alabama, met with Eddins and the Alabama State Senate Interim Taxation Committee to discuss the upcoming budget in March of 1959. Eddins, however, wanted to speak about several books in the public libraries that he thought dealt with segregation and communism. Reed deflected, but she was confronted by Eddins again several months later and he demanded The Rabbits’ Wedding be removed from the libraries. Reed refused to abide by his demands [1]. Continue reading “The Rabbits’ Wedding: Emily W. Reed and the Freedom to Read”

Exhibit: ALA and Intellectual Freedom

The ALA Archives is excited to display materials on intellectual freedom at the ALA Annual Conference this year! This exhibit will run from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning by the ALA members lounge, near the exhibit hall. However, we know that not everyone will get a chance to view the exhibit or look at the documents as carefully as they would like. This blog post will give you a chance to enjoy the exhibit materials remotely, and perhaps even see documents that didn’t make it into the case. Click on the images to view the documents closer or to access the full version of the item.

Continue reading “Exhibit: ALA and Intellectual Freedom”