Bess Bolden Walcott

Bess Bolden Walcott (1886-1988) arrived in 1908 upon graduation from Oberlin College, having been recruited by Booker T. Washington to help him organize his library. During her long tenure at Tuskegee Institute (1908-1962), she served in many capacities, including librarian, teacher, writer, editor, administrator, and curator. In addition to her distinguished academic service to one of Alabama’s most historic institutions of higher learning, she served her state and nation in ways that merit recognition in the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. She helped establish a Red Cross chapter at Tuskegee Institute at a time when many doubted black Americans could significantly contribute to the nation’s defense. Yet, she became the nation’s first black female Acting Field Director for the American Red Cross, demonstrating exemplary leadership. In addition to her outstanding public service through the Red Cross, she also helped conserve Tuskegee University’s unique historic legacy. A close friend as well as a long-time colleague of George Washington Carver, she served as curator for the Carver Museum (1951-1962).