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Langsdale Library

GW Collection Overview

Collection Title: Jo Ann Robinson/ Gertrude Williams (GW)

Inclusive Dates: 1970-2009 

Size: 12.9 linear feet

Scope and Contents:  
This collection consists of reports, correspondence, clippings, interview tapes, transcripts, and photographs documenting Gertrude Williams' career in the Baltimore City Public School System, with particular focus on Barclay Middle School (P.S. 054).  Topics covered include desegregation, efforts to institute school based management and school center budgeting, and the perennial struggle over city and state funding for education.

Historical Note:  
Gertrude Williams’ service in the Baltimore school system spanned the years 1949-1998. She began as a third grade teacher at Carrollton Elementary School (P.S. 139).  In 1965, having earned a Counseling Certificate in Elementary Guidance from Loyola College in Baltimore, she assumed the position of Counselor at Mordecai Gist Elementary School (P.S. 069).  In 1969, she was appointed assistant principal at Barclay Middle School (P.S. 054).  She became principal there four years later and remained at that post until her retirement on July 1, 1998.

Following the belief that staff and parents should have a hand in determining school programs and goals, Williams developed a strong collaborative model of school governance. She and the Barclay community gained a reputation as outspoken advocates and fighters for quality education. They pioneered in securing one of the first Pre-Kindergarten programs in Baltimore City, the first all-day kindergarten, and the addition of grades seven and eight to Barclay School.  Williams’ crowning achievement came in 1990 when the community won a hard-fought battle to adopt a private school curriculum. 

Custodial History:  
Jo Ann Robinson, Professor of History at Morgan State University, collected the material while active as a parent volunteer at Barclay Elementary-Middle School.  A major portion of the material informed oral interviews by Robinson of Gertrude Williams and Williams’ associates, resulting in Education As My Agenda: Gertrude Williams, Race and the Baltimore Public Schools (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).  The collection was donated to the University of Baltimore by Jo Ann Robinson in 2005.  An additional accrual [Series I, Box 9] was received in May 2009.