Sterling, Dorothy, 1913-2008

Alternative names
Birth 1913-11-23
Death 2008-12-01

Biographical notes:

Dorothy Sterling (1913- ) is an American author of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. She wrote mysteries for children, biographies of famous African Americans, and books about the Civil Rights Movement and segregation.

From the description of Dorothy Sterling papers, ca. 1938-1978. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122345997

American children's literature author and editor. She is most noted for her biographies about famous African Americans as well as books about the Civil Rights Movement and segregation.

From the description of Dorothy Sterling papers, 1953-1968. (University of Southern Mississippi, Regional Campus). WorldCat record id: 39731926

Dorothy Sterling was born in New York, New York on November 23, 1913, daughter of Elsie Darmstadter Dannenberg and Joseph Dannenberg. She was educated at Wellesley College and Barnard College, graduating from Barnard with a B.A. in 1934. She married Philip Sterling (also a writer) on May 14, 1937. They have two children, Peter and Anne.

Dorothy Sterling's fiction books for children are typically mysteries, such as The Brownie Scout Mystery (1955), The Silver Spoon Mystery (1958), Secret of the Old Post-Box (1960) and The Cub Scout Mystery (1952). Her non-fiction books fall into two categoris: science and nature, such as Trees and Their Story (1953), Insects and the Homes They Build (1954), and The Story of Mosses, Ferns, and Mushrooms [1955]); and civil rights, such as It Started in Montgomery: A Picure History of the Civil Rights Movement (1972), Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman (1954), Tear Down the Walls!: A History of the American Civil Rights Movement (1968). Mary Jane (1959), is a best-selling young adult novel about a twelve-year-old black girl who was among the first students to integrate a junior high school in the 1950s.

Dorothy Sterling has won several awards for her writings, including the Carter G. Woodson Book Award from the National Council for the Social Studies for The Trouble They Seen: Black People Tell the Story of Reconstruction (1976)

Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003.

From the guide to the Dorothy Sterling papers, ca. 1938-1978, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)


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Ark ID:


  • Children's literature, American--20th century
  • Literature
  • Children's literature, American--Authorship
  • African Americans--Civil rights--Juvenile literature
  • Young adult literature, American--Authorship
  • Women
  • African Americans--Juvenile literature
  • Women authors, American--20th century
  • African Americans
  • Children and youth
  • African Americans--Segregation--Juvenile literature


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