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Glennette Tilley Turner

Born: 1933 in Raleigh, North Carolina
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: 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.

Biography: 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. 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.

  • A Man Called Horse Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2023
  • Various Awards: William F. Siebert Award, 2012; National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, 2011; Lifetime Achievement Award, Operation Uplift; International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent; Irma Kingsley Johnson Award, Friends of Amistad; The Alice Browning Award, International Black Writers Conference; Margaret Landon Award; Studs Terkel Humanities Award

Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers; Children; Young adult readers


Selected Titles

A man called Horse :
ISBN: 1419749331 OCLC: 1242017880

John Horse was a famed chief, warrior, tactician, and diplomat who played a dominant role in Black Seminole affairs for half a century. A political and military leader of mixed Seminole and African heritage, Horse defended his people from the U.S. government, other tribes, and slave hunters by serving as a counselor of fellow Seminole leaders, an agent of the U.S. government, and a captain in the Mexican army.

An apple for Harriet Tubman
ISBN: 9780807503966 OCLC: 62782119

Biography of a little slave girl whipped for eating an apple, who later grew up to become a famous conductor for the underground railroad.

  Billy the barber's mirror :
ISBN: 9780938990079 OCLC: 871555868

Newman Educational Publishing, Glen Ellyn, Ill. : ©2014.

The story of William de Fleurville, Lincoln's African American friend and barber.

Follow in their footsteps /
ISBN: 0140383638 OCLC: 40728359

Puffin Books, New York, N.Y. : 1999, ©1997.

Brief biographies of ten African Americans, including C.G. Woodson, Dorothy Height, Thurgood Marshall, Charlemae Rollins, Malcolm X, and Alex Haley. With a skit about each to be acted out.

Fort Mose :
ISBN: 0810940566 OCLC: 490077443

Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York : 2010.

Follows the history of slavery from West Africa to America, recounts what daily life was like, and describes the founding of the Spanish colonies.

  Lewis howard latimer.
ISBN: 0382241622 OCLC: 233026287

Silver Burdett, Englewood Cliffs : 1990.

A biography of the Afro-American inventor who, among other contributions, invented an inexpensive method for manufacturing carbon filaments for electric light bulbs.

Running for our lives /
ISBN: 0938990063 OCLC: 57562126

Newman Educational Pub. Co., Glen Ellyn, IL : ©2004.

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

Surprise for Mrs. Burns /
ISBN: 0807576697 OCLC: 144673

A. Whitman, Chicago : ©1971.

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

Take a walk in their shoes
ISBN: 0140362509 OCLC: 26097075

Puffin Books, New York, N.Y. : 1992.

Presents biographical sketches of fourteen notable African Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rose Parks, and Satchel Paige, accompanied by brief skits in which readers can act out imagined scenes from their lives.

  The underground railroad in DuPage County, Illinois /
ISBN: 0938990020 OCLC: 16142670

Newman Educational Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. : 1986, ©1980.

The underground railroad in Illinois /
ISBN: 0938990055 OCLC: 46688070

Newman Educational Pub., Glen Ellyn, Ill. : 2001.

The activities of the Underground Railroad, and the Abolitionist Movement in Illinois are documented by the author in this meticulously researched book.