Eloise K. Richardson
In 1948, Eloise Keller Richardson was the first African American columnist for the Annapolis, Maryland Capital newspaper. And in 1950 she became the first African American librarian in the integrated Anne Arundel County Maryland Public Library system.
Eloise was born in Alabama in 1907, the oldest of four daughters of Edgar T. Keller and his wife Elvie Martin Keller, who were married in Alabama in 1905. The family lived in both Nashville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, Indiana where Edgar worked as a shoemaker in his own shop. When Eloise was 16 years old, her parents divorced.
Before coming to Annapolis, she graduated from Tennessee State College and worked for various African American newspapers, including the Indianapolis Recorder and the Atlanta World. She also gained attention as a nationally known home economist, teaching cooking classes around the country.
After her marriage on October 8, 1944, to William Richardson, her third husband, she left a position as a correspondent in public relations at the Pentagon to move to Annapolis with her new husband, where he worked at the Naval Academy as a personnel clerk in the Commissary Department. Both Richardsons became active in the community, with Mrs. Richardson helping organize young women to be USO hostesses. In 1945 she was working as a substitute teacher at the Stanton School. An accomplished pianist, she organized music appreciation classes and helped establish Girl Scout troops for Black girls.
In 1948 she began writing a regular column in the Evening Capital newspaper, entitled, “Our Negro Community,” being the first African American to write for the newspaper. The column ran for several months and featured the activities of African Americans in the community. She ended the column when it was pointed out to her by Dr. Johnson, then president of the local NAACP, that “her columns were of no help to the colored community as it too segregated the community into one column.” Richardson and other African Americans continued to be mentioned in articles throughout the Capital after that fall when the column ended.
Richardson also volunteered at the segregated Clay Street Library of the Anne Arundel Public Library system. In the summer of 1950, the library board closed that library because the cost of repairs was prohibitive. They moved Richardson to the Church Circle library as the Children’s Librarian, being the first colored librarian in the newly integrated system.
In 1952 she was the president of the Annapolis Council of Negro Women, a chapter of the national organization. After leaving her public library job in 1963, she established the first patient library at the Crownsville State Hospital. She also found time to act as a correspondent for the Baltimore African American for ten years. In 1975 she was appointed to a two-year term on the board of the United Fund of Central Maryland.
The Richardsons had no children but raised a foster daughter, Cheryl. Eloise Richardson died in Annapolis in 1991.