SOUTHGATE, ROBERT L. (24 Oct. 1921-6 Sept. 1988), librarian, teacher, writer and publisher, pioneered the local study of the history of AFRICAN AMERICANS. He worked as librarian in the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, taught history and literature at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY (CSU) and BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, and formed and operated Tish's Press (1984). He authored several books, including Black Plots and Black Characters: A Handbook for Afro-American Literature (1979).
Southgate was born in Cincinnati to William and Martha (Buchanan) Southgate. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1955. In 1969 he earned a master's degree in library science from CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. Southgate served as librarian for, first, Central intermediate school and then Lincoln intermediate in Cleveland before retiring in June 1987.
A civic leader, he helped found and taught in the freedom schools sponsored by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP) (1963) and later volunteered with the Senior Citizens Coalition. While at CSU he advised both the Black Studies Program and the Organization for African American Unity and was among the founders of a literary club.
On 22 June 1957, Southgate married Joan E. Harris; they lived in Cleveland with children Letitia, Martha, Robert and Daniel. Southgate died in Cleveland.