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Librarian Compiling New Directory On Minority Women

By Deborah Gelin

A directory resembling a Who's Who of prominent minority women will appear on bookstands late next year, Jessie C. Smith, a librarian at Fisk University and the directory's creator, said yesterday.

The work, titled "A Directory of Significant 20th Century American Women," will contain profiles of 600 women drawn from suggestions by civil rights, women's, political, ethnic, civic, and other naitonal organizations, Smith said.

Each entry will contain a short biography of the woman, as well as a personal statement of what she considers her contribution to American life.

Smith said financials limitations have forced her to restrict the volume to prominent women of four major ethnic groups: blacks, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians.

"I hope to eventually expand the work to include other minorities," she added.

Smith said she first started her work in 1976, but had to begin again in January after a fire destroyed her records last December. Although she received a $10,000 advance from her publishers, Smith said she had to absorb most of the financial loss from the fire herself.

Although Smith has not yet heard from the publishers of "Who's Who in America," she said she would like to work with the famous "capsule biographers" on a permanent basis. "I'm fascinated by the compilation of a directory," she added.

Walter J. Leonard, special assistant to President Bok and the president-designate of Fisk University, said yesterday he thinks the directory will serve a valuable purpose by publicizing the works of long-overlooked figures in American society.

"Too long these persons have been written out or weren't considered as persons of importance," Leonard said.

Leonard called Smith's work "another move to correct an important exclusion in American history."

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