Partner Helen Mathewson

Queer Places:
122 S 14th St, Lincoln, NE 68508
Nacoochee United Methodist Church Cemetery Sautee, White County, Georgia, USA

Charlotte "Lottie" Templeton (December 24, 1877 – October 8, 1970) was a librarian. Templeton had a longtime librarian friend, Helen Mathewson, with whom she shared living quarters throughout her life, and who was known and accepted by those who knew them well as her lover, even if never explicitly acknowledged as such. The two women had met in Nebraska, had share a cottage in Lincoln (still standing, complete with romantic rose-trellis) and every subsequent career move of Templeton was accompanied by the secutirng of suitable employment for Matthewson, a cataloger.

The story of Templeton's professional life will be found written in the history of library progress in Nebraska from 1906 to 1919, and in the south from 1920. While Arkansas claims her as a native (she was born at Brinkley, Monroe County, Arkansas, the daughter of Robert Templeton (1842–1934) and Jane Coleman (1847–1938)), Nebraska early adopted her, and she became an alumna of the University of Nebraska, and then of the Pratt Institute School of Library Science. Omaha, Nebraska and Oshkosh, Wisconsin had brief periods of her professional service, but it was as secretary of the Nebraska Public Library Commission that her organizing ability and capacity for making things happen began to come into full play.

Essentially a pioneer in spirit, after twelve years of intensive cultivation of the soil of one state, Templeton felt the lure of the new ground again and moved to Georgia in 1920 to organize the work of the Georgia Library Commission, which, though old in years, had just been given state funds for its work. In her report at the end of the first year's work in Georgia, Templeton said : "After a year of careful consideration of Georgia library problems, I am convinced that libraries cannot take their right place in the educational system of the state, until they, like schools, receive state aid based on population." Thus Templeton was recommending, as early as 1920, a policy in library development endorsed by the Council of the American Library Association in 1930. It is characteristic of Templeton that her vision is never limited by accepted present practice either in routines or policies. She had the courage to experiment and had an intuitive sense of what would work.

After three years in Georgia, Templeton went to Greenville, South Carolina, as librarian of the newly developed Public Library where she said she would have the opportunity to try out many of the ideas which she had been recommending to others for so many years. The ideas were evidently workable, for the comprehensive program of library service that the Greenville Public Library planned to develop moved steadily towards fulfilment. The goal which Templeton had set for accomplishment was complete library service to all the people of Greenville County, supported by public taxation. After seven years of progressive development this program could be considered an accomplished fact.

Such a program might be considered a sufficiently absorbing occupation for one person, but Templeton's contribution to the advance of libraries in the south as a region had been as significant as the work in her own library. She had always thought in terms of the region, and was one of the first people to see the advantages to library progress in the south of a regional library association. She helped plan the first meetine in 1920, which led to the organization of the Southeastern Library Association, and had always been a leader in the direction of its policies. She served as chairman of the organizing committee to draw up a constitution, served as secretary from 1922-24, was chairman of the Committee of Objectives for the Public Library Group at the 1926 conference, and was elected president in 1928 for the ensuing biennium. As president of the Association, she took the lead in formulating the far-reaching program of the library needs of the south which was drawn up by the Policy Committee of the Association in December, 1929, at the request of the Rosenwald Fund, practically all the points that were adopted having been suggested in Templeton's tentative schedule presented to the group for discussion.

Other activities that have engaged Miss Templeton's attention and help are the establishment of the State Library Board and the raising of funds to employ a state field agent for South Carolina. Further afield, she was one of the lecturers at the library institute held at Emory University in 1927, was director of the same in 1928, and in 1930 she was director of a six weeks' institute held at Spelman College in Atlanta for librarians of public library branches for Negroes. She was on the regular lecture staff of the Atlanta Library School. She had been a member of the Council of the American Library Association and had been a member of the Library Extension Committee from the time it was first appointed.


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