Guela Johnson papers, 1968-1990

Overview of the Collection

Johnson, Guela
Guela Johnson papers
1968-1990 (inclusive)
1 cubic foot
Collection Number
4334 (Accession No. 4334-001)
Papers from the first African American woman to act as head of the University of Washington departmental library.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Guela ['gyu lʌ] Gayton Johnson (1927-2018) was the first African American woman to act as head of a University of Washington departmental library. She was born in the Central Area of Seattle, Washington, to Virginia Gayton (1902-1993) and John Jacob Gayton (1899-1969). She graduated from Garfield High School after attending Madrona Elementary School and Meany Junior High School. Librarianship ran in the family, as her grandfather was the U.S. District Court librarian from 1933 to 1953, and her aunt was the first African American professional librarian in Seattle. During her time at Garfield High School, the University of Washington gave her a part-time employment opportunity as a library page, where she continued to work while she studied sociology there. She was promoted to staff the circulation desk and later was promoted again to circulation desk supervisor. Guela was awarded a fellowship and graduated the University of Washington with a Masters in Library and Information Science in 1969. She then became the first professional librarian to head the School of Social Work library branch at the University of Washington. While there she managed to expand the branch’s holdings from 1,500 to over 50,000 by the time she retired in 1992. She spent over half her life working on the University of Washington campus. She was a sponsor for “BRIDGES” which was a summer library instruction training program for racial minority students to prepare them for entrance to the School of Social Work. The Ethnic Cultural Center Library was developed with the help of her expertise. Her community activities included founding a Seattle Chapter of Links Inc., a group established in Philadelphia in 1947 predominantly composed of African American women where she assisted in art and youth projects. The Black Heritage Society of Washington State and its collection committee also saw her serve as a board member. In 2003 she was presented with the Loren Miller Bar Association Community Service Award for acting as a leader for other African American faculty in academia.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, reports, subject series, committee files.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by Guela Johnson, 5/28/1992.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
1 Correspondence
5 folders
1 Reports
6 folders
1 Committee Files
4 folders
1 Subject Series
4 folders
1 University of Washington Libraries, Social Work Library Committee
3 folders

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Academic librarians--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Academic libraries--Washington (State)--Seattle--History--Sources
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)

Personal Names

  • Johnson, Guela Gayton, 1927-2018--Archives

Corporate Names

  • University of Washington. Social Work Library--History--Sources

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • University of Washington. Libraries. Social Work Library Committee (creator)