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Library and Information Science


Myrtle Jackson Ross was born in 1929 in Austin County, Texas, where her father worked as a cotton-picker. When she was about eight years-old, Ross’s family moved to Houston, settling on Mason Street in the city’s Fourth Ward. There, her father worked at a hospital and her mother worked as a homemaker. Ross graduated from the Gregory School on Victor Street before attending Booker T. Washington High School on West Dallas Street.

Ross was in high school when she began visiting Houston’s Colored Carnegie Library, which was situated directly behind Booker T. Washington High School. For Ross, the library served primarily as a source of recreational reading materials; and though she did not participate in any library clubs or programs, Ross was one of several Washington school students selected by the librarian, Ms. Florence Bandy, to help process books in the Carnegie library’s basement.

After graduating from high school in 1947, Ross attended Texas Southern University, Johnson’s Business School and Erma Hughes Business School. She worked for the federal census and later in a grocery store. She also married and raised a family.

Ross, who has resided in Houston since childhood, remembers growing up in the era of segregation (ca. 1940s) and recalls several other Houston landmarks, including the Rainbow and Lincoln theatres and the Pilgrim Temple Building (demolished in the 1960s) on the corner of West Dallas and Bagby streets.

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This oral history is the property of the Roots of Community Project at the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Library and Information Science. Except for the quotation of short excerpts, it may not be reproduced or published in any form without written permission from the Project Director. Please call (601) 266-4228 for more information.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant #RE-31-16-0044-16. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this transcript do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.