Storytelling school

West Hartford Public Library to Host Gertrude Banks Storytelling Event – We-Ha

Gertrude Blanks’ contributions to the West Hartford community will be highlighted during a storytelling event at the Noah Webster Library on July 16, 2022.

Gertrude Blancs. Courtesy picture


Join the West Hartford Public Library on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. as we celebrate Gertrude Blanks’ contributions to the community by keeping storytelling alive. Local residents will share their stories of life-changing experiences.

The community and library of West Hartford is proud to claim Gertrude as one of its own and a daughter who will always have a home at the West Hartford Public Library, especially on the library mural where her picture is depicted among the other two towns of West Hartford. The ‘first’ black women: former councilman Judy Casperson and state representative Tammy Exum.

West Hartford Library Director Laura Irmscher said, “West Hartford Public Library is thrilled to honor Gertrude Blanks with a program that highlights the enduring power of storytelling.

Blanks was born in Baltimore, MD and moved to Hartford, CT as a young child in the early 1920s. She lived with her grandparents on Pliny Street, while her mother worked as a servant in a West Hartford home. Blanks attended school at Arsenal.

When her grandfather died and she had to move in with her mother in the West Hartford home she cared for, Blanks attended Hall High School (class of 1938). Storytelling became her special time with her mother and a way of feeling connected to her people and their history.

She developed her gift of storytelling and worked at the Hartford Public Library for over 20 years, hosting story hours and carrying on this tradition with many schools and organizations seeking her services until her final years of life. She has been an inspiration to the many poets and storytellers who have followed her legacy.

Library Board Vice Chair Gail Crockett said, “The West Hartford Public Library is thrilled to host a first public storytelling event in honor of the town’s late resident and first Black Hall High School graduate Gertrude Blanks. “Mama Blanks,” as she was known, was a former Hartford librarian who brought the telling of her stories to life for many young people and adults in the communities of West Hartford and greater Hartford through this rich oral tradition.

Registration is encouraged, but not required. If you would like a recording of the presentation, please register for this free event and you will receive a copy of the recording a few days after the program. Masks will be mandatory.

To sign up for this program, go to:

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