Known for being a phenomenal storyteller, Augusta Braxton-Baker, made great contributions to children’s literature. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland to parents who were both school teachers. While her parents worked during the day, she was cared for by her grandmother who engaged her with delightful stories of her own.
Braxton learned how to read and write before starting elementary school. She attended a racially segregated high school where her father taught, and later graduated at the age of 16. She then attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she met James Baker; they were married by the end of her sophomore year.
She relocated with her husband to New York and transferred to the Albany Teacher’s College only to be met with racial opposition from the college. However, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was on the board at the time of the Albany Interracial Council, advocated for Baker’s successful transfer. Baker was able to complete her education, earning a B.A. degree in education in 1933 and a B.S. in library science in 1934.
Baker taught for a few years and later hired as a children’s librarian at the New York Public Library, now the Countee Cullen Regional Branch in Harlem. In 1953, Baker was appointed as Storytelling Specialist and Assistant Coordinator of Children’s Services. Not long after that, she became Coordinator of Children’s Services. She became the first African American librarian in an administrative position at the New York Public Library in 1961.
In 1974, Baker retired from the New York Public Library. She later returned to librarianship to assume the newly created Storyteller-in-Residence position at the University of South Carolina. She remained there until her second retirement in 1994. Baker died in 1998.