“My History is Filled With These Black Women” Dr. Sylvia G. Rousseau Shares Her West End Story

Written by Keloni Parks, Branch Manager, West End Branch Library

For our twenty first episode of the West End Stories Project, we spoke with retired educator and advocate, Dr. Sylvia G. Rousseau, whose family resided and worked in three Cincinnati neighborhoods with historic Black communities; Madisonville, Walnut Hills, and the West End. Although Dr. Rousseau lived in Madisonville, she attended Harriet Beecher Stowe School, and briefly lived at Park Town in the West End.

Episode Notes

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dr. Rousseau’s grandmother, Ida Moody, was also an educator who graduated from Spellman College around 1887. After teaching for twenty years she migrated to Cincinnati from Georgia. She had ten kids, and eight of them graduated from college. Her daughter, Ruhama Moody (Rousseau’s Aunt Ru), received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1928, and was appointed to Stowe School by the Cincinnati Board of Education in 1936. Dr. Rousseau lived near her Aunt Ru in Madisonville, so she rode to and from school with her every day.

Dr. Rousseau’s Aunt Mary (Mary Finley) and Mag (Magnolia Mosley) also worked at Stowe, in its library. The Stowe Library was one of two Black branches of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library. Before working at Stowe, Finley, one of Cincinnati’s first Black public librarians, worked at the other Black branch located in Fredrick Douglass School in Walnut Hills, where she resided for a time. Finley worked at the library for forty-six years, while Mosley, one of Ida Moody’s ten children, worked for the library as an assistant for seventeen years.

If you or someone you know lived or spent a significant amount of time in the West End, please consider sharing your story. Call 513-369-6900 or email westend@chpl.org for more information.

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