Glennette Tilley Turner
Pen Name: None
Born: 1933 in Raleigh, North Carolina
Photo Credit: Lynard M. Jones
Turner moved to the Chicago area in 1955 to attend Lake Forest College. She taught in the Chicago Public School System, the Maywood-Melrose Park Public School System and, in 1968, she began teaching in the Wheaton-Warrenville Public School System, where she remained for twenty years. Turner still resides in the Chicago area today.
Biographical and Professional Information
Glennette Tilley Turner is an author, historian and educator. In 1955, Turner earned her B.A. at Lake Forest College. After college she wrote advertising copy for a woman’s dress store. It was during this time that she wrote her first book, Surprise for Mrs. Burns. Regardless of her work in advertising, her heart was in education. After marrying and starting a family she went back to school to get her teaching credentials and began teaching elementary school.
Turner taught in the Chicago Public School System, the Maywood-Melrose Park Public School System and, in 1968, she began teaching in the Wheaton-Warrenville Public School System, where she remained for twenty years. In 1979, Turner earned her master’s degree in History and Juvenile Literature at Goddard College.
As a teacher she wrote skits with bios and these turned into her books, Take a Walk in Their Shoes and Follow in Their Footsteps. During this time she also wrote a monthly biographical sketch in Ebony, Jr! magazine. Not long after, Turner started researching and writing about the Underground Railroad publishing the books, The Underground Railroad in Illinois, Running for Our Lives and An Apple for Harriet Tubman.
Now retired, she devotes much of her time to writing. The Underground Railroad has been the focus of much of her historical research. She also writes biographies which include: Fort Mose: and the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America, Billy the Barber's Mirror, Take Walk in Their Shoes: Biographies of 14 Outstanding African Americans , Follow in Their Footsteps and Lewis Howard Latimer.
She was a contributor to In Praise of Our Fathers and Mothers, Encyclopedia of Chicago and Women Building Chicago: 1790 - 1990. Excerpts of her work have been included in reading materials published by Open Court, Harcourt Brace, Houghton Mifflin, and Scott Foresman.
Turner is also a consultant, a historical researcher and lecturer on her knowledge of the Underground Railroad. As a member of the Underground Railroad Advisory Committee of the National Park Service, she testified before subcommittees of the U.S. Senate and House and the Illinois Senate in support of Underground Railroad legislation. Her Underground Railroad program is recognized by the NPS Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. She has made presentations at National Network to Freedom Conferences, written articles about the Underground Railroad for several magazine and newspaper publications, and has been interviewed by C-SPAN and other cable networks. She also narrated the Chicago Opera Theater’s production of Harriet Tubman.
Mrs. Turner has received many awards for her work including: the Studs Terkel Humanities Award, the Margaret Landon Award, The Alice Browning Award of the International Black Writers Conference, the Irma Kingsley Johnson Award of the Friends of Amistad, and was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Chicago State University. In 2011 she received a lifetime achievement award from Operation Uplift and honored by Top Ladies of Distinction. Most recently, she was the 2012 recipient of Network’s Wilbur Siebert Award from the National Underground Railroad Program of the National Park Service for her extensive Underground Railroad writings and efforts to make this significant chapter of American history known. She is also the 2014 recipient of the DuPage County NAACP Medgar Evers Award.
- Surprise For Mrs. Burns, Albert Whitman, 1971
- The Underground Railroad in DuPage County, Illinois, Newman Educational Publishers, 1986
- Take a Walk in Their Shoes, Dutton, 1989
- Lewis Howard Latimer, Silver Burdett, 1990
- Follow in Their Footsteps, Puffin, 1999
- The Underground Railroad in Illinois, Newman Educational Publishing, 2001
- Running For Our Lives, Newman Educational Publishing, 2004
- An Apple for Harriet Tubman, Albert Whitman & Company, 2006
- Fort Mose: And The Story of The Man Who Built The First Free Black Settlement In Colonial America, Abrams Books, 2010
- Billy the Barber's Mirror: Reflecting on an Untold Lincoln Story, Newman Educational Publishing, 2014
Titles at Your Library
Surprise for Mrs. Burns
Release Date: 1971
Take a Walk in Their Shoes: Biographies of Fourteen Outstanding African American
Release Date: 1992-12
Follow in Their Footsteps
Release Date: 1999-01-01
The Underground Railroad in Illinois
Release Date: 2001-01
Running for Our Lives
Release Date: 2004-04
2012 William F. Siebert Award from the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from Operation Uplift and honored by Top Ladies of Distinction
Inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center of Chicago State University
Irma Kingsley Johnson Award of the Friends of Amistad
The Alice Browning Award of the International Black Writers Conference
Margaret Landon Award
Studs Terkel Humanities Award
Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances
Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)
412 West 154th Street
New York, New York 10032
The Brown Book Shelf Interview with Turner - To see Turner's interview scroll down to #5.
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