Daniel P. Murray, author and historian

Daniel Murray
Wed, 1852-03-24

*On this date the birth of Daniel Alexander Payne Murray in 1852 is celebrated. He was a Black author, politician, and historian.

From Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of a freed slave. At the age of nine, Murray moved to Washington, D.C. to work for his brother, a caterer and manager of the United States Senate Restaurant. In 1871, Murray became a member of the twelve-person staff of the Library of Congress as the personal assistant to Ainsworth Rand Spofford. Murray was the second Black-American to hold a professional position at the Library of Congress. Ten years later he was promoted to assistant librarian. In 1899, Spofford's successor, Herbert Putnam, asked Murray to compile a collection of books and pamphlets by Black authors for a display of "Negro Authors" at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Murray published a preliminary list of titles in 1900, requesting from the public donations of listed works, and suggestions. Soon his list grew to eleven hundred titles; his collection became the core of the Library of Congress's Colored Authors' Collection. Although Murray planned to expand this and create an encyclopedia of African-American achievement, the project never received enough money to become a reality. Murray was widely acknowledged as an authority on African-American concerns.

He was also the first African-American member of the Washington Board of Trade. He spoke before the House of Representatives about Jim Crow laws and the migration of African-Americans from the rural south to urban areas. He was twice a delegate to the Republican National Convention and was a member of many other councils and organizations.

Murray was a prolific author, and a frequent contributor to Black journals, in particular "The Voice of the Negro." Murray's personal library of African-American works was donated to the Library of Congress after his death in 1925.

The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.
ISBN 0-7166-0096-X

To be a Writer

Person / name: 

Murray, Daniel P.