Jessie Carney Smith, PhD


As a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Dr. Smith was teaching assistant in the School of Library and Information Science. After completing her degree, she returned to Tennessee State University and resumed her post as head of the Cataloging Department and Assistant Professor of Library Science. She moved to Fisk University as University Librarian and later was named Dean of the Library. Dr. Smith occupies the Camille Cosby Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, which was established on September 9, 1987. 

Dr. Smith has taught part-time in library science at Alabama A&M University, the University of Tennessee, and Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.  She has served as consultant to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, the U.S. Office of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). She has directed three institutional self-studies at Fisk, resulting in the institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation by SACS. Dr. Smith has lectured widely in academic institutions throughout the United States, and led a workshop for United States Army Librarians in the Pacific, in Tokyo, Japan. She directs the Julius Rosenwald Rural Negro Schools Project at Fisk.  She has also directed nationally-focused workshops and grant programs in library and information science at Fisk. She is a specialist in African American research resources.


Current Research Interests
Fields:  Library and information science, and library collections
Areas: African American literature, history, and culture


Black Firsts. 3rd ed., 2013. Detroit:  Visible Ink Press. 2nd ed., 2003; lst ed., 1994,  (Named an outstanding reference source in 1995 by American Libraries).

Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture.  4 vols. 2011. Santa Barbara: Greenwood/ABC-CLIO.

“From Andrew Carnegie to John Hope Franklin:  Library Development at Fisk University.”   Tennessee Libraries 59 (February 2010).

Civil Rights Facts and Firsts.  2009. With Linda Wynn.  Detroit, MI:  Visible Ink Press.

“Introduction,” and guest editor.  2007.  African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations.  By Kathlyn Gay.  Detroit:  Omnigraphics.

Encyclopedia of African American Business.  2 vols. 2006. Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 2006.

Notable Black American Men.  Book II, 2006.   Detroit: Gale Research.  Book  I, 1999.  (Named one of the New York Public Library’s “Best  of Reference” titles for 2000; also included in the “Booklist Editors’ Choice ‘99)  as one of the best reference sources, in Reference Books Bulletin/Booklist). 

Notable Black American Women. 2003.  Detroit:  Gale Research.  Book II, 1996.  Book I, 1991.

Black Heroes of the Twentieth Century. 2002,  1998.  Detroit: Visible Ink Press.

African American Heroes.  1997. Detroit: Visible Ink Press

Powerful Black Women.  1997.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press.

Statistical Record of Black America. 4th ed., with Carrell P. Horton, 1996.  Detroit: Gale Research.  3rd ed, with Robert Johns, 1994; 2nd ed, 1992. 1st ed., 1990, with Carrell P. Horton  (Listed in Library Journal as one of the thirty best references of 1990). 

Historical Statistics of Black America. 1994.  Coedited with Carrell P. Horton.  Detroit:  Gale Research Inc.

Epic Lives. Detroit:  1992.  Detroit: Visible Ink Press.  (Named Book of the Month by Lammas Tide, December 1992).

Images of Blacks in American Culture:  A Reference Guide to Information Sources. 1998. Westport, CT.:  Greenwood  Press.

Ethnic Genealogy:  A Research Guide.  1983.  Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Black Academic Libraries and Research Collections:  An Historical Survey.  1977. Westport, CT.:  Greenwood Press.

Jessie Carney Smith, PhD

  • Dean of the Library
  • Camille Cosby Distinguished Chair in the Humanities


  • BS in Home Economics, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Further study in Clothing and Textiles, Cornell University
  • AMLS in Library Science, George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
  • PhD in Library Science, University of Illinois 

John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library, Room 20
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Nashville, TN 37208