Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Glennette Tilley Turner  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Children; Children;

Born: 1933 in Raleigh, North Carolina

-- Article on Philly's African American Children's Book Fair --
-- The Brown Book Shelf Interview with Turner - To see Turner's interview scroll down to #5. --
-- Website --
-- Glennette Tilley Turner on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

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.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Surprise for Mrs. Burns
ISBN: 0807576697

A. Whitman. 1971

When they discover she is leaving, Mrs. Burns' class decides to give her a party.

Underground Railroad in Dupage County Illinois,The
ISBN: 0938990020

Newman Educational Publishing Company. 1986

Take a Walk in Their Shoes: Biographies of Fourteen Outstanding African American
ISBN: 0785704981

Tandem Library. 1992

Lewis Howard Latimer
ISBN: 0382241622

Silver Burdett Press. 1991

Follow in Their Footsteps
ISBN: 0140383638

Puffin Books. 1999

An inspiring collection of brief biographies of ten African Americans includes C. G. Woodson, Dorothy Height, Thurgood Marshall, Charlemae Rollins, and Alex Haley, and includes a skit about each that can be acted out. Reprint.

The Underground Railroad in Illinois
ISBN: 0938990055

Newman Educational Pub. 2001

Uses maps, rare photographs, background information, and activities to explore the history of the underground railroad in Illinois.

Running for Our Lives
ISBN: 0938990063

Newman Educational Pub. 2004

A family of fugitive slaves becomes separated while traveling to freedom aboard the Underground Railroad.

An Apple for Harriet Tubman
ISBN: 0807503959

Albert Whitman & Company. 2006

Like other enslaved African-American children, young Harriet Tubman had to work hard. In her master's orchard, she spent long hours picking the juicy apples she loved but was forbidden to eat. When she was grown, she made her escape to the North.

Fort Mose: And the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in Colonial America
ISBN: 0810940566

Harry N. Abrams. 2010

In this one-of-a-kind historical picture book, author Glennette Tilley Turner tells the story of Fort Mose, which was founded in St. Augustine, Florida, and was the first free African settlement to legally exist in what later became the United States. Fort Mose was not only the first free black settlement, but it was also the most southern link of the Underground Railroad as a haven of refuge, just as cities in Canada were the northern most link.

Beginning with the story of Francisco Menendez, the Captain of the Black Militia of St. Augustine, FORT MOSE follows the history of slavery from West Africa to America, recounts what daily life was like, and describes the founding of the Spanish colony’s Fort Mose. Established in 1738, Fort Mose gave sanctuary to escaped Africans, challenging slavery in the English colonies. Approximately one hundred Africans lived together, creating a frontier community that drew on a range of African backgrounds, blending them with those of Spanish, Native American, and English people and cultural traditions.

The book includes more than forty archival images, an afterword about uncovering Fort Mose (which is now part of the National Parks), a glossary, an author’s note, a bibliography, and an index.

Praise for Fort Mose
Starred Review:
"Turner’s graceful account clearly distinguishes between fact and supposition. The paragraphs discussing the transport of slaves and their treatment at the “pest” house on Sullivan’s Island are particularly vivid and informative. Brightening every page of this large, handsome book are deep-green borders of tropical leaves. A significant addition to African American history collections for young people. –Booklist, starred review

"This is a useful addition to libraries with strong African-American history collections, and for teachers and librarians looking for unique stories about colonial America." –School Library Journal

"This handsomely designed book offers an eye-opening look at a hitherto little-known community and a notable figure in Colonial American history." –Kirkus Reviews


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

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact Information Marie Brown 412 West 154th Street New York, New York 10032