Sadie P. Delaney served as chief librarian of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama, for 34 years. She is probably best-known for her work with bibliotherapy.
Delaney was born on February 26, 1889, in Rochester, New York to Julia Frances Hawkins Johnson and James Johnson. After graduating high school, she attended the College of the City of New York where she graduated in 1919. She later received her library training at the New York Public School from 1920 to 1921.
Delaney continued her work at the New York Public Library after she completed her training. She worked at the 135th Street Branch in Harlem through 1923. During this time, she held story hours, discussion groups, and other events for children. Some of the events were geared specifically toward juvenile delinquents, foreign-born children or blind children.
Delaney established the first African American exhibit of art held in the New York Public Library. During the early 1920s, she was approached by the head the library at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. The hospital was home to physically disabled African American war veterans and veterans with mental or emotional issues. Delaney initially took a six-month leave of absence from the New York Public Library; however, she ended up staying in Tuskegee for the remainder of her career.
Delaney was known for using bibliotherapy extensively throughout her professional career. She referred to bibliotherapy as, “the treatment of patients through selected reading.” To complement her work with books and bibliotherapy, Delaney developed many special programs for the patients. She instituted book talks, monthly program meetings, a story hour and a variety of other clubs. Sadie Delaney died on May 4, 1958, at the age of 69.