Alumnae: Alumnae Profiles

Alumnae Profiles: Clara Stanton Jones, C'34

For her unwavering love and support through the years, and her commitment
to the ideals of Spelman College as lived out through her exemplary life, work and service, Spelman College celebrates the life and legacy of
Clara Araminta Stanton Jones.

Clara Araminta Stanton entered the gates of Spelman College from St. Louis, Missouri, and focused her studies in English, while engaging in campus life through participation in the University Players, the Social Problems Club, the Spelman-Morehouse Chorus and the Spelman College Glee Club.

Upon graduation from Spelman College in 1934, Clara Stanton Jones continued her educational and career pursuits, earning a degree in Library Science at the University of Michigan, and serving the libraries of Atlanta University, Dillard and Southern Universities before entering the Detroit Public Library System in 1944.  Excellence and innovation were the platform for her rise through the ranks at the Detroit Public Library where, in 1970, she was appointed Director, becoming the first woman and first Black director in the 105-year history of the fifth largest library system in the nation at the time.

Shattering gender and racial barriers, Clara Stanton Jones established the Detroit Public Library System as a national model for compilation of information and positioning of an urban library as “the people’s university.”  Her accomplishments, acknowledgements, and accolades are numerous, and include being featured on the cover of Library Journal, and in articles in the New York Times and Jet Magazine. 

Clara Stanton Jones was the first Black woman elected president of the American Library Association, serving from 1976-77, and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, serving from 1978 until 1982. She lectured and toured abroad in the national libraries of Venezuela, Australia, China, West Germany and England.  She held board positions, published numerous articles in library journals, authored a textbook, and was listed in Who’s Who in America.

Spelman College celebrated the spirit and tenacity of Clara Stanton Jones by honoring her as the Founders Day Speaker in 1971 and conferring the College’s highest honor, the honorary degree upon her in 1984, the year of her 50th Spelman Reunion.

Read more about Clara Staton Jones