Our Stories Live Here: 65 Years of the Mildred L. Terry Public Library

September 22,2018-February 10,2019
Yarbrough Gallery

  • Mildred L. Terry
    ca. 1980
    Courtesy of the Mildred L. Terry Public Library

  • Stamp tree from Mildred L. Terry Public Library
    late 20th century
    Gift of the Mildred L. Terry Public Library

  • Fifth Avenue School
    ca. 1910
    Gift of a Friend of the Museum

In 1947, Columbus’ African American residents asked city officials a straightforward question: When will a public library be available to us? Five years later, the Fourth Avenue Library opened as the first dedicated library open to people of color in the Chattahoochee Valley. Centrally located near the Liberty business district, Fifth Avenue School, and the Booker T. Washington public housing complex, the building became a community center for Columbus’ African American population, led for nearly 30 years by beloved head librarian Mildred Terry.

This exhibition examines the history of this iconic gathering place from the library’s origins and early successes, through the dramatic integration of the Columbus public library system in the ‘60s and the threat of the Mildred L. Terry Public Library’s closure, to its many public programs and continuing influence today. Interviews collected by StoryCorps and the library during its Mildred Terry Memory Project in 2015 will be an integral part of the exhibition, as well as books, photographs, documents, and artifacts from the library’s archives.




    This exhibition is generously supported by the Muscogee County Library.

This program is supported in part by Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency – the National Endowment for the Arts.

This program is made possible in part by the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance.

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