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Women's History Month

Celebrating the contributions of women throughout history.

Powerful Women of San Antonio Public Library

 The Women of SAPL



Elizabeth Howard West

1914 - 1916: Served two terms as President of Texas Library Association

1917: Became Director of San Antonio Main Library (SAPL), two years before the 19th Amendment was ratified in the U.S. Constitution.

1918 - 1925: First Woman Director of Texas State Library

  • Developed the states first library service for the blind
  • Advocated for the status of academic librarians
  • First President of the Southwest Library Association (1922)

1925 - 1942: First Librarian for Texas Technical College (Texas Tech University – Lubbock)

  • Founded the Lubbock Chapter of the American Association of University Women in 1926.

Elizabeth Howard West

Prudence L. Curry

1930: First Library Manager of the Carver Branch Library

  • Curry influenced a whole generation of young African Americans in San Antonio to love reading, learning and respect the place of books in our society.
  • Over a period of 28 ½ years, she developed and expanded the collection of the Carver Branch Library.
  • Motto: “Put the right book in the right hands at the right time!”
  • Received her Masters in Library Science from Spelman College.

*Carver Library was constructed in 1929 as the African American library of San Antonio, Texas under Jim-Crow-era racial segregation.

Isabel G. Bazan

  • Born in San Antonio, Texas on July 8, 1920

1942: Our Lady of the Lake College (OLLU) B.A.

1968: Later obtained 36 hours in Library Science from Our Lady of the Lake

1972: Chief of San Antonio Main Library

  • 34 years of service with SAPL
  • Miss Bazan had many titles and projects including:
    • Head of Old Prospect Hill Branch Library
    • Head of San Pedro Branch Library
    • Head of History, Social Science and General Reference Department of San Antonio Main Library
    • Served as a coordinator for Spanish language materials and attended workshops in Austin and El Paso on providing materials to Latino communities.

*On March 10, 1977, SAPL Board of Trustees named the branch in her honor.

Minnie B. Cameron

1917: Joined San Antonio Main Library as a Reference Librarian

1920: Returned to San Antonio Main Library

  • Worked as a Spanish and German translator in World War 1.
  • Head of Texana Department for 34 years.
  • Lead the expansion of volumes and collections and was recognized nationally as an authority of Texana. 528 volumes to 6000 volumes.
  • Member of the Texas Library Association and the American Library Association
  • Her research has assisted historians with involvement with La Villita.

Julia Grothaus

1917: Joined San Antonio Main Library 

1918 - 1921: Worked for the federal government in library services for the Army in World War 1.

1933 - 1957: Served as Library Director

  • Under her direction, the institute was a recipient of significant bequest, including the Harry Landa Estate, the Edward Dixon Estate and the Harry Hertzberg collection of rare books and circus memorabilia.
  • Developed bookmobile services.
  • Provided in-service training for employees at Our Lady of the Lake College. (OLLU)
  • Successful in maintaining the library system during the Great Depression.

1940 - 1941: Served as President of the Texas Library Association

  • Appointed a committee to establish a library school at the University of Texas at Austin.

Marie Berry

1935: Joined SAPL as  an apprentice then as a Reference Librarian.

1940: Graduated from St. Mary’s University.

1957: Obtained her Master’s Degree at Our Lady of the Lake.

1958: Became the Head of History, General Reference and Social Studies Department.

  • Built an extensive Holocaust and Judaica collection. This collection included a four-volume encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

1975 - 1976: Served as President of the San Antonio Historical Association and San Antonio Conservation Society.

  • 45 years of service helping educate three generation in San Antonio and Bexar County.
  • Known as “The Source” whenever a different question of history arose, the quickest way and most accurate was to ask Marie Berry.

Leah Carter Johnston

1922: Joined San Antonio Main Library in 1922.

1927: Developed “Young Pegasus”, the first children’s poetry competition in the United States and is still active today.

1964: Mrs. Johnston and 12 friends organized and created Friends of SAPL

  • Established and was Head of the San Antonio Main Library Children's’ Department for 33 years.
  • Charter member of League of Women Voters.
  • Published a children’s local history book “San Antonio – St. Anthony’s Town”.

Geraldine LeFevre

1947: Obtained Library Science Degree from the University of Oklahoma

1970 - 1985: Served as Assistant Director

  • 35 years of service to San Antonio Public Library.
  • Sought out improvements and development of children's programs and services.
  • Assisted SAPL systems into the Computer Age.
  • Worked at Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, Women’s Breakfast Club of San Antonio, Zonta Club of San Antonio, and Friends of SAPL.

Grace Philippi

1922: Joined SAPL

  • Philippi worked as an un-paid apprentice at the age of 17 and worked 6 months with the library for free.

1959: Became the Head of Literature, Philosophy and Religion.

  • She oversaw 650,000 books, one of the largest collection among the four other departments at the main library.
  • Gained fame with her quick ability to find the proper reference materials.
  • Member of the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association.