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Walls, Esther J., 1926-



  • Existence: 1926-


Esther Jean Walls, librarian, administrator, and educator, was born to Eldist (E.S.) and Jewette Walls on May 1, 1926 in Mason City, Iowa. In 1944, Walls graduated from Mason City High School, the valedictorian of her class. She attended Mason City Junior College before transferring to the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa), where she majored in romance languages with a minor in education. She was the first African-American female student at the State University of Iowa to be elected to the Alpha of Iowa Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of Phi Sigma Iota, an honorary Romance Languages fraternity. She graduated summa cum laude in 1948 with a B.A. Although she found no teaching positions open to her in Mason City, Walls did secure employment at the Mason City Public Library. She went on toattend Columbia University, where she received an M.S. in Library Science in1951.

Walls began working for the New York Public Library in1950 and held various professional assignments, including serving as director of the North Manhattan Library Project and as head of the Countee Cullen Regional Library. From 1965 to1970, Walls worked for the non-profit international publishing organization Franklin Book Programs, Inc. She servedas program officer, supervising and administering activities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. She also served as director of Book and Library Services, assistant director for Africa, and director of Adult New Literates Project.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Esther J. Walls papers

Identifier: IWA0288

Mason City, Iowa native and librarian who was the first African-American female student at University of Iowa elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Dates: 1860-1996