- Virginia Johnson
Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born December 28, 1927 in Baltimore. Her family was filled with successful, professional people who formed a loving and uplifting environment for Elizabeth. She had a great childhood filled with wonderful memories of taking The Train to Lulu's with only her sister for company to see her relatives further south.
Storytellers run in her family. Her father, James "Mac" MacFarland Fitzgerald, made the past come alive with tales from his own childhood. She never forgot them. They inspired her as she married, raised her own family, assisted her husband with his Peace Corps work, participated in the Civil Rights Movement, and went on to get her own advanced degrees in librarianship from the University of Pittsburgh. She taught library science for fifteen years at West Virginia University until her retirement in 1993. She now lives in Pittsburgh where she enjoys the symphony, African folklore, French conversation, family history, and her grandchildren.
She thinks of herself as the Grandma Moses of children's books since she started writing them later in life. Like Grandma Moses, when the time came to express herself, she put down what she knew and loved. Her stories bridge racial divides as they show children of yesterday and today who dream and dare and do.
Luckily for us readers, Dr. Fitzgerald still has many family stories still to tell.
In the Library
These are some of her books that are based on her family's stories. Click on any title below to go the our library's catalog and request that the book be held for you. Click here for all of the CRRL's holdings of her works.
Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys
After the Civil War, the slaves are free but untaught. The young Fitzgerald boys travel seven miles to the Quakers' school and stay there all week. Little sister Virgie wants to go, too, even if her brothers do say that girls don't need school. This is a family story passed down from C.C., the author's grandfather and Virgie's brother. Virgie... was chosen as a Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book in 2001.
The Aunt Flossie Books
The author's beloved Aunt Flossie stars in two of her works.
Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)
Sarah and Susan love to visit their Great-great-aunt Flossie on Sundays. Each of her beautiful hats has a memory and a story connected to it. Aunt Flossie won both the Parents' Choice Award and Teachers' Choice Award in 1992.
What's in Aunt Mary's Room?
Susan and Sarah know there's a locked room in their Great-great-aunt Flossie's house that's supposed to be full of "things to save, things to keep." One day they find the key and discover a precious treasure from the past.
Chita, Elizabeth's real-life older cousin, lived in turn-of-the-century Baltimore with her loving family.
Chita's Christmas Tree
Chita's daddy is a busy doctor, but he makes time to drive Chita out in his horse and buggy to the deep, deep woods and find the perfect Christmas tree. Christmas Tree was an American Library Association Notable Book in 1990 and won other awards as well.
Papa Tells Chita a Story
Before he was a doctor, Chita's daddy was a soldier in the Spanish-American War. He tells his daughter the story of carrying a secret message past a snakey snake, a toothy alligator, and a cranky eagle.
On the Web
The Brown Bookshelf: Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Glimpses into Howard's life and her feelings on education and growing up before the blossoming of black children's literature.
Peace Corps Online: Radcliffe University
Once upon a time in the 1960s, Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard's husband was associate director of the Peace Corps for the Philippines. This brief article remembers that exciting time and notes her continuing efforts to support civil rights through the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity.
Shadyside Author's Children's Books Open Window on Black Family Bonds
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published this terrific article based on an interview with the author in 2000. Includes a photograph.