Stage play tells story of Katie Hart, Hertford Co. Library pioneer

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2017

WINTON – Books Are My Children, a play about the life and times of Mrs. Katie Marie Hart of Winton will premiere Sept. 28 at the C. S. Brown Cultural Arts Center in the same town.

Hart began the first library service for Hertford County residents in 1931. Where does one begin in establishing a public library in a county where no other library of any kind exists? Her first “library” consisted of books that she bought, collected, and were donated from faraway places such as Dayton, Ohio and Boston, Massachusetts.

Hart’s cramped office on the grounds of Water’s Training School served as the location for this first, makeshift library. In 1939, as the demand

Katie Marie Hart of Winton is credited for establishing the first library for Hertford County residents in 1931

for books had grown, Hart spearheaded a program to get books into the hands of more people. In 1940, the North Carolina Library Commission noted in its annual report, “In Hertford County the negroes raised a thousand dollars to purchase their own bookmobile, the first in the South to be owned and operated for the exclusive use of the colored people.”

After getting the bookmobile on the road, Hart immediately began planning and fundraising to construct a brick-and-mortar library building for the people of the area. In 1941, she opened the Hertford County Negro Library on Murfree Street in Winton.

The original play is being produced by Cultivator Bookstore in Murfreesboro and the C. S. Brown Cultural Arts Center in Winton. The cast will consist of students from Hertford County Public Schools and also local actors.

School performances will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28. Public performances will be held at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. For tickets or more information, please call Caroline Stephenson at (252) 395-2327 or email

This project is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.