Beulah Ewing Barksdale was born in Waco, Texas in 1932. Her parents sheltered her and her siblings from the segregation of the time. Barksdale was active in the Girl Reserves, belonged to the local Young Women's Christian Association, took piano and violin lessons, and was a collector of African American dolls.
Barksdale graduated high school in 1948 and enrolled at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee later that same year. She majored in English with a Drama Speech minor and was a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. During one summer semester, she took French at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Fisk University in 1952 and began teaching English and Drama at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas.
Barksdale then took a year-long sabbatical from teaching to attend Atlanta University where she earned her master's degree in library science. During the year following her graduation, she taught in the library school at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.
Barksdale became engaged in Florida and relocated to Waco in 1956 to get married. Once back, she returned to Paul Quinn as a librarian. Throughout her career, Barksdale worked as a librarian at multiple Waco-area elementary schools, including Parkdale Elementary where she spent 18 years, and Alta Vista, where, in 1956, Barksdale became the first African American librarian at the school.
Barksdale was also a charter member of the Waco chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
More information about Beulah Ewing Barksdale can be found at the Institute for Oral History.