WVSU Alumna, Trailblazing Black Librarian to be Namesake of Ohio Elementary School

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
February 3, 2022
WVSU Alumna, Trailblazing Black Librarian to be Namesake of Ohio Elementary School

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – A trailblazing librarian and teacher who earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State University (WVSU) in 1924 and became one of the first Black women to earn a degree in library science will be the namesake of a new elementary school under construction in Westerville, Ohio.

Minerva FranceMinerva France Elementary School is expected to open in August as a part of the Westerville City School District. The school will be named after Minerva J. France, a former Westerville student who set a precedent in librarianship and higher education in the 1920s and ‘30s.

France dedicated her short life to educating others and bringing more recognition to people of color. In a newspaper article about her family dated October 1949, it says her highest aspiration was to become a teacher.

France attended Westerville Public School in Ohio before moving to West Virginia for college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the former West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now WVSU) in 1924 and then spent two summers studying at Columbia University. She then got a job at Wilberforce College in Ohio, where she worked seven years as an English teacher and librarian.

She would spend her evenings in Columbus taking night classes and earning her way to her master’s degree from Ohio State University. In 1935, one year after earning her master’s degree, France passed away from a brief illness.

During her career at Wilberforce, France worked to build the library’s collection of Black authors, writing to authors such as W.E.B. DuBois and others asking for a donation of their work.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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