These biographical notes are taken from Guide to the Transcripts of the Black Women Oral History Project, edited by Ruth Edmonds Hill and Patricia Miller King and published in 1991.
Additional biographical information can be found in the Biographical Files collection for the Project.
Jessie Abbott became an active member of the Tuskegee Institute community when she moved there in 1923. She had been born and educated in Des Moines, Iowa, and met her future husband, Cleve Abbott, when he was a student at South Dakota State College and participating in a track meet. At Tuskegee, she assisted him in establishing highly successful athletic programs for young Black men and women at the Institute and in organizing intercollegiate athletic competitions for the Black schools in the Southern Athletic Conference. Together the Abbotts developed girls' athletic programs at Tuskegee and coached the first all-Black girls' track team to enter the Olympics. Mrs. Abbott also served as secretary to the wives of the presidents of Tuskegee and to George Washington Carver. In the years before Carver's death in 1943, she accompanied him on his daily rounds through Tuskegee's museum and greenhouse. Thereafter she worked at the mental hygiene clinic at the John A. Andrews Hospital and at a local gift shop until her retirement.
The daughter of Handy and Ada Crosby Daniels, Christia Adair was born in Texas; she graduated from Samuel Houston College and was trained as a teacher at Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical Institute. Three years of teaching, marriage to Elbert H. Adair, and several years of volunteer service for the Methodist Episcopal Church preceded the beginning of what was to be her long-term service to the NAACP. Spurred by observing President Harding ignore the group of Black children she was accompanying to shake hands with white children, Mrs. Adair began to work for racial equality. In 1925 she became a volunteer recording secretary for the newly organized Houston branch of the NAACP. When the organization's finances were unable to support a paid administrator, she donated her time and for 12 years worked without a steady salary. It was during these years that enormous strides were made in abolishing the practice of segregation in public facilities. Mrs. Adair was also instrumental in organizing the first interracial political group and the Harris County Democrats. One of the first Blacks to serve as precinct judge in the county as well as one of the first Blacks elected as state Democratic committeewoman (although she was never seated), Mrs. Adair was honored on the 54th anniversary of women's suffrage in August 1974: "Her life is a history of the struggle of women and minorities of this society." Mrs. Adair's other memberships included NACWC, Texas Federation of Church Women, and Zeta Phi Beta.
Frankie Adams was a teacher at the Atlanta University School of Social Work for 33 years. There she was largely responsible for initiating a sequence in group work or communlty organization long before it was generally accepted as a part of the training methodology for social work. The youngest in a family of seven children, Frankie Adams was born and educated through the eighth grade in Kentucky. She attended high school and college at Knoxville College, where she became active in the YWCA and met Frances Williams (another BWOHP interviewee) who was then a national student secretary for the YWCA. Following graduation 1925, Ms. Adams attended the New York School of Social Work. She then became industrial secretary of the YWCA in Chicago, and also worked as director of a day care center for children of migrant families in Maryland, before joining the faculty of the Atlanta School of Social Work. The School became part of Atlanta University in 1947 and Professor Adams continued as a member of the faculty. After retirement from Atlanta University in 1964, she worked for three years for Atlanta Economic Opportunity, developing neighborhood service centers in poor areas of the city; these programs later became models for other Office of Economic Opportunity programs around the country. After her second retirement, she volunteered for Project Head Start. Her memberships included the Georgia Conference on Social Work, National Association of Social Workers, National Urban League, and Utopian Literary Club.
Kathleen Adams, a graduate of Atlanta University in 1911, taught in the public schools of Atlanta for about 34 years, and also at the Carrie Steele Pitts Home, an institution for the care of orphans. She retired from teaching in 1957. A member of one of the prominent Black families of Atlanta, Mrs. Adams showed an early interest in history. She has preserved the history of her family in documents and memorabilia and has made tapes for the local historical society on the history of the Atlanta public schools. At the time of her interview, she was the historian and oldest active member of the First Congregational Church in Atlanta.
Frances Albrier grew up in Tuskegee, Ala., and attended the Institute there until she went to Howard University to train in nursing. Moving to Berkeley, Calif., in 1920, she found few job opportunities open to Blacks. She became a Black Cross Nurse in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and later worked as a maid for the Pullman Company, where she became involved in unionizing the porters, waiters, and maids on the trains. Her many polltical activities began in 1938 with her election to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee; she was the first woman member. Mrs. Albrier has been active in many civic organizations and clubs, both integrated and Black. She was a leader in the California Association of Colored Women's Clubs, held the presidency of the San Francisco chapter of NCNW, and is a member of Labor's Nonpartisan League and WILPF. Among her other memberships are the East Bay Women's Welfare Club, League of Women Voters, Little Citizens' Study and Welfare Club, NAACP, and YWCA. She has been at the forefront of every major civil rights movement, often setting up ad hoc organizations to achieve specific local goals. She has helped to pave the way for Blacks to work as clerks in neighborhood stores, to teach in public schools, and to run for and to be elected to the city council, the school board, and the state legislature.
A writer, lecturer, and poet, Margaret Walker Alexander is a professor of English at Jackson State University and director of its Institute for the Study of History, Life and Culture of Black People. She was born on the campus of Central Alabama Institute in Birmingham, where her father, the Rev. Sigismund Walker, taught. Her mother, Marion Dozier Walker, was a musician and church school teacher. Miss Walker graduated from Northwestern University, and earned an M.A. from the Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and later a Ph.D., also from Iowa. Dr. Alexander taught English at several colleges before joining the faculty at Jackson State College, where she became a full professor in 1965. She is the author of Jubilee, The Daemonic Genius of Richard Wright, and several volumes of verse including Prophets for A New Day, and October Journey. Her first volume of poetry, For My People, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1942. By speaking publicly and organizing exhibits and conferences, Dr. Alexander has sought throughout her career to broaden society's awareness of Black culture.
In 1921 Sadie Alexander was one of the first three Black women in the United states to be awarded a doctorate; she was also the first Black woman to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and the first to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her father, Aaron Mossell, had been the first Black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and her mother, Mary Tanner Mossell, was the fourth generation of the Tanner family recorded as "free negroes" in the U.S. Census. After earning B.S., M.A., Ph.D., and LL.B. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, she engaged in private practice with the Philadelphia firm of her husband, Raymond Pace Alexander, until his death in 1974. Subsequently joining another firm, Dr. Alexander worked as an attorney in Philadelphia for more than 50 years. She participated in numerous civic organizations, including the National Urban League and Delta Sigma Theta, which she served as first national president.
As a child, Elizabeth Cardozo Barker spent her summers playing and working in and around the beauty shop run by her grandmother, Emma Jones Warrick, in Atlantic City, N.J. The founder of Cardozo Sisters Hairstylists in Washington, D.C., in 1928, Mrs. Barker was assisted in the business by two sisters, Margaret Cardozo Holmes and Catherine Cardozo Lewis (both BWOHP interviewees). The firm was influential in the growth of the Black beauty industry in the city, providing their employees with first-rate training and optimum conditions for career advancement. As a member of the Board of Cosmetology, Mrs. Barker saw to it that all beauty and barber shops were required to serve customers of all races; she was also largely responsible for the integratlon of beauty schools in the area and for the improvement of operator education, insisting that certificates be granted for various levels of expertise.
Etta Moten Barnett is an internationally known actress, concert artist, and radio personality who has had a varied, lively, and highly productive career in the performing arts. She studied voice in college, and later at the graduate level, speech and psychology. Known for her portrayal of Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess she has appeared in Broadway productions, in film, and as the host of her own radio program. With her husband, Claude Barnett, founder-director of the Associated Negro Press, she has traveled as an official United States delegate to many African countries. In 1958 she was a special guest of the All-African People's Conference, and in 1960 of the All-African Women's Conference. In 1975 she headed the United States non-governmental delegation to the International Women's Conference in Mexico City. A sought-after lecturer and public service volunteer in Chicago, Ill., Mrs Barnett has served a number of organizations and chaired the International Women's Decade for The Links, Inc.
One of the incorporators of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority while a student at Howard University, Norma Boyd taught for more than 35 years in the Washington, D.C., public school system. The second of the three daughters born to Jurrell and Pattie Bullock Boyd, Ms. Boyd was educated in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Howard in 1910. After study at Miner Normal School, she began teaching in 1912. She spent much time taking her students to visit Congress and other institutions to learn about democracy and the political process. She was active in the National Non-Partisan Council on Public Affairs, an organization which lobbied for the improvement of political, economic, and social conditions among minorities and which sought to secure, for all citizens, the opportunity to participate fully in all branches of government at the federal, state, and local levels. Miss Boyd represented the Council as a certified observer at the United Nations, where it was one of the groups submitting recommendations for the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights. In 1959, she was the founder of the Women's International Religious Fellowship, an organization devoted to fostering understanding among the peoples of the world. She was honored by NCNW in 1947 and AKA in 1975.
A nationally-acclaimed civic leader and long-time champion of civil rights, Mrs. Cass was a pillar of Boston's Black community for half a century. Born in Richmond, Va., she was the eldest daughter of Albert and Mary Drew Jones. Her family moved to Massachusetts when Melnea was five, but she was sent back to Virginia to attend a Catholic school that offered training in household management as well as an academic curriculum. Graduating in 1914, she was a domestic worker in Boston and nearby areas for the following 30 or 40 years. In 1917, she married Marshall Cass and came under the influence of his mother, Rosa Cass Brown, who encouraged her participation in political and social activities. From the 1920s, the Robert Gould Shaw House, a community center, provided the focus for a host of programs with which she was affiliated, including a preschool nursery and the Friendship Club, an organization of neighborhood mothers. Mrs. Cass was an active member of the NAACP, serving as president, 1962-64, as they organized sit-ins to demonstrate against the Boston School Committee and to protest inequality in curriculum and racial imbalance in the city's schools. For seventeen years she was also the president of the Women's Service Club, which developed programs providing training, counseling, and housing for young women seeking domestic employment. She was the only female charter member of the board of Action for Boston Community Development; a charter member of Freedom House, co-directed by another Project interviewee, Muriel Snowden; and a member of the Board of Overseers of Public Welfare for Boston. At the recommendation of the Massachusetts State Federation of Women's Clubs, Mrs. Cass was named Massachusetts "Mother of the Year" in 1974; several facilities in Boston, including a swimming pool and skating rink, a branch of the YWCA, and Melnea Cass Boulevard bear her name.
May Chinn was a physician in Harlem for more than 50 years. She was born in Massachusetts, the only child of Lulu Ann and William Lafayette Chinn. At age three, she and her parents moved to New York City. She was educated in New York and New Jersey, partially at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School. Dr. Chinn studied piano as a child and taught piano to children when she dropped out of high school before her last year. Although she never completed high school, she was admitted to Columbia University Teachers' College in 1917; she intended to pursue a degree in music, but in her second year changed her program to science. To earn money for her studies, she continued to play piano for students in the music department. In the 1920's she accompanied Paul Robeson, and sang and played for herself, at concerts which they gave in churches in Harlem. In 1926, she was the first Black woman to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College. She was also the first Black woman to serve as an intern at Harlem Hospital, and, for many years, the only Black woman to practice medicine in Harlem, where she had an office at the Edgecombe Sanitarium. As her work in cancer was recognized, she began to send patients to Memorial Hospital, and in 1944 she joined the staff of the Stang Clinic, helping to devise methods leading to the early detection of cancer. Although she retired from private practice in 1977, she continued to work in three Harlem day care centers sponsored by the New York State Department of Health and as a consultant for the Phelps-Stokes Fund.
Juanita Jewel Craft was a self-described "professional volunteer" who devoted her life to the civil rights movement in Texas, initiating and participating in demonstrations to bring to public attention the issue of equal access to universities, theaters, restaurants, and housing. Born in Texas, she was educated at Prairie View and Samuel Houston Colleges, and taught for one year before turning her energies to volunteer activities. She was involved in successfully opening the University of Texas to Blacks, a confrontation which culminated in the case of Sweatt vs. Painter, and was later instrumental in filing a similar suit against North Texas State University. Equally concerned with the plight of Native Americans and Mexican Americans, Mrs. Craft sought to improve training opportunities in the city of Dallas. Her work with young people included implementing a drop-out prevention program and an ecology and litter plan, which eventually grew into a large city-wide organization. She was elected, at age 73, to a seat on the Dallas City Council.
For much of her life, Clara Dickson divided her time and energy between eight children at home and outside employment. Her work included a variety of positions with the U.S. Army and Air Force, and with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation where she was concerned with all aspects of fire prevention. Her first husband, Steven A. Peters, was a Mashpee Indian; she and her family have been active in the civic life of Mashpee, Mass., for more than 50 years. Mrs. Dickson served on the school committee for 20 years, during which time Mashpee's simple two-room schoolhouse was replaced by a modern, fully-equipped building.
Alice Dunnigan was a schoolteacher, political activist, and journalist. The daughter of sharecroppers, she showed an early desire for an education. Despite her parents' protest, she went to grade school and eventually to Kentucky State College. She received a teaching certificate and taught in the rural schools of Kentucky. In 1930 she returned to school at West Kentucky Industrial College and earned a certificate in home economics. In her small town, she worked to improve city services, such as mail delivery and installation of gas and water lines, for the Black area. World War II took her to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a clerk-typist, and later as an economist-writer. This led to her career as a journalist and to her becoming chief of the Washington Bureau of the Associated Negro Press. She was the first Black woman to be admitted to the White House and Congressional Press Galleries and was the first Black correspondent to travel with a President of the United States when she accompanied Harry Truman during his 1948 campaign. Following her retirement, she did research on the history of Black Kentuckians.
As social worker, mother, and civic leader, Alfreda Barnett Duster worked tirelessly to improve conditions in her neighborhood and community and to provide an environment capable of enriching and nourishing the lives of all people, especially the young. She grew up in Chicago surrounded by her large family and colleagues of her parents, Ferdinand L. Barnett and Ida B. Wells- Barnett. Graduating from the University of Chicago in 1924, she spent the next 20 years as wife, mother, and homemaker. Widowed at the age of 40 and with five children to raise, she returned to school to study for a degree in social work. As a social worker for the state of Illinois in the newly developing field of community organization, she served as juvenile delinquency prevention coordinator. She was also the administrator of the girls' program for underprivileged city children at Camp Illini, "Mother of the Year" in 1950 and 1970, and editor of her mother's autobiography, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells.
Born in Washington, D.C., Eva Dykes graduated from the M Street High School and Howard University. With the encouragement of her uncle, Dr. James Howard, she continued her educaton at Radcliffe College where she received an A.B. and A.M. as well as a doctorate in English philology. She was, with Sadie Alexander and Georgiana Simpson, one of the three first Black women to earn Ph.D. degrees in the United States (1921). She taught at Walden University, Dunbar (formerly M street) High School, then at Howard University for 15 years, where she was voted the best all-around teacher in the university by the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts. Having become a Seventh-Day Adventist, she combined her religious conviction and her academic interests by accepting an invitation in 1944 to teach at Oakwood College, a Seventh-Day Adventist school in Huntsville, Ala. She played a significant role in the college's efforts to achieve accreditation and expand its curriculum. In 1973 she was honored by having the college library named for her. She studied music from the age of five and was pianist, organist, and choir director, as well as the author of several books, including The Negro in English Romantic Thought.
Mae Massie Eberhardt has been a union activist for nearly 35 years. Born in Virginia, one of the eight children of Randolph and Ida Kenny Graves, she married and moved to New Jersey after completing high school. When she was divorced from her first husband, she went to work at Orange and Domestic Laundry where she became active in Local 284, AFL, and led the fight for better pay and improved working conditions. She was elected shop steward and held that position until the laundry went out of business 12 years later. Then employed as an electronics worker for Kuthe Laboratories in Newark, she took an active part in the successful organizing campaign for the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (CIO). Elected president of the local, she also served as chief negotiator, chairperson of the grievance committee, and member of the district executive board. Mrs. Eberhardt went to work for IUE in 1963 as civil rights director for District 3, which included the states of New Jersey and New York; in that position she was instrumental in persuading the IUE to sponsor a scholarship program--now nation-wide--for college students. Elected executive vice-president of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council, she was the first Black woman ever elected as an officer in a state labor organization. She is active in community affairs and oversaw the founding of North Jersey Community Union, which was designed to meet the health needs of the uninsured poor and which provides day care, work for senior citizens, and hot meals.
As nurse and public health administrator, Florence Edmonds served her community for more than 50 years, both professionally and in a volunteer capacity. Born, raised, and educated in Pittsfield, Mass., Mrs. Edmonds was refused nurses' training at the local hospital. In 1917 she enrolled in a three-year course at Lincoln Hospital and Home Training School for Nurses in New York City. Upon its completion, she was awarded a one-year scholarship to Teachers' College at Columbia University to study hospital social service. She then worked at the Henry Street Settlement, a visiting nurses service. She married William Bailey Edmonds in 1922, and returned with him to her hometown of Pittsfield, where they raised their four children. During World War II, she taught Red Cross home nursing classes, and in 1945, she joined the Pittsfield Visiting Nurse Association where she remained for 11 years. She served as secretary to District One of the Massachusetts State Nurses Association, and was health coordinator and part-time instructor in home nursing at Pittsfield General Hospital from 1956 until 1968 when the affiliated nursing school closed. An active church member and volunteer in community activities, Mrs. Edmonds was named "Mother of the Year" in 1962 by the townspeople of Pittsfield.
Lena Edwards had a tireless commitment to her profession as a physician and to her community. A daughter of Marie Coakley and Thomas W. Edwards, a dentist who taught at Howard University, and younger sister of another project interviewee, May Edwards Hill, she was born and educated in Washington, D.C. She attended Howard University, where she earned her B.A. and M.D. degrees. After an internship at Freedmen's Hospital, she became the first Black Woman to complete a residency in obstetrics at Margaret Hague Hospital in New Jersey. After many years of medical practice in New Jersey, at the same time that she was raising six children, in 1954 Dr. Edwards joined the faculty of Howard University where she taught obstetrics and gynecology. A devoted teacher, she sought to convey her ideas on the humanity of medicine and importance of treating the patient as an integral whole. She left Howard in 1960 to live and work for five years in a migrant labor camp in Hereford, Tex., where she established a maternity clinic and used her own savings to open a health clinic serving 5,000 laborers and their families. In recognition of her work, she was presented with the Presidential Freedom Award in 1964. A devout Catholic, Dr. Edwards was a pioneer in advocating natural childbirth and throughout her career has been instrumental in setting up programs for unwed mothers, for alcoholics, and for the poor and aged. She was a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of the International College of Surgeons; other memberships included the American Medical Association, American Medical Women's Association, and Delta Sigma Theta. After retirement, she continued to be active in community medicine in New Jersey.
Dorothy Boulding Ferebee was a distinguished physician and humanitarian who served the Howard University community for more than 40 years. The only daughter of Benjamin Richard and Florence Ruffin Boulding, she was born in Norfolk, VA., and received part of her education in Boston at Girls' High School. She graduated from Simmons College in 1920 and from the Tufts University School of Medicine in 1924. After internship at Freedmen's Hospital and postgraduate training, she became an instructor in obstetrics at Howard in 1935, and served as medical director of the Howard University Health Service until her retirement in 1968. A tireless worker, Dr. Ferebee was an active participant in dozens of organizations; most notably she was founder of Southeast Neighborhood House in Washington, D.C., which provides day care for infants and toddlers of working mothers, and recreational facilities for young people. From 1935 to 1941, she was medical director of the AKA Mississippi Health Project, an innovative plan to bring health care to tenant farming families. The project initiated the first mobile health clinics in the United States as a workable way of teaching the rudimentary principles of health care and nutrition. She was national president of AKA and of NCNW, president of the Howard Faculty Women's Club; served on the boards of the Girl Scouts of America and the National YWCA; and was a medical consultant to the Peace Corps and the Department of State. Other memberships were AAUW, D.C. Commission on the Status of Women, and National Council of Administrative Women in Education.
A dedicated civic worker and community activist, Minnie Fisher is the oldest native-born citizen of the town of Mound Bayou, Miss. An all-Black town founded in 1887 by Isaiah T. Montgomery, Mound Bayou stands as a symbol of the ambitious and cooperative efforts of Black people everywhere. Ms. Fisher's parents, Warren and Mary Elizabeth Fisher, were among the first group of settlers from Vicksburg, Miss., who came to Mound Bayou to seek a place where they might prosper and provide broader opportunities for their children. Minnie Fisher was educated at Tougaloo College and has lived and worked in various sections of Mississippi. She always returns to Mound Bayou, where she has been city librarian, town clerk, tax collector, and a member of the Mound Bayou Civic Improvement Society. She was at one time editor of the Mound Bayou News and has been a life-long member of the International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor. She was feted by her town on Minnie Fisher Day, April 21, 1979.
A resident of San Francisco since 1918, Katherine Stewart Flippin is an educator who has worked extensively with atypical children. She was born in Portland, Ore., the only daughter of McCants and Mary Weir Stewart. After dropping out of high school in her last year, she worked at a department store for the next 15 years. She married Robert Browning Flippin, an ardent community activist, who became executive director of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center. Soon thereafter, Mrs. Flippin returned to school to complete her high school education, and go on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in early childhood education at San Francisco State College. While still a student, she was a master teacher and a supervising teacher in the nursery school at the college, and in 1949 was appointed to the faculty. She helped establish an experimental unit called Aid for Brain-Damaged Children, Inc., which sought to discover how nonmotorhandicapped, brain-injured children deviate in visual and auditory areas. She also was a teacher at the Northern California School for Cerebral Palsied and Others and was able to incorporate many of the newly developed techniques. In 1966 she was asked to coordinate the Head Start program in Pacifica, Calif. The culmination of her career came in 1968 when she became director of the Cooper's Corner Child Care Center in Pacifica, where she was able to use all the skills acquired throughout her professional life. Retiring as director in 1972, she continues as a consultant. Mrs. Flippin is also deeply committed to collecting and preserving documents about the history of Black people in the West. She has been president of Kappa Delta Pi and has been active in the NAACP, San Francisco Consumer Action, and Children's Home Society.
Virginia Gayton worked for 21 years for the U.S. Postal Service in Seattle. The eldest of five children born in Nashville, she moved with her family to Spokane before she entered school. Her parents were both teachers and they provided a stimulating home environment, including the study of the history of Afro-Americans. After two years at Howard University, she returned to Seattle and worked for the Seattle Cap Company. In 1926 she married John T. Gayton; they have eight children. She began work for the Post Office when World War II opened up employment opportunities for women. Her community activities have included Delta Sigma Theta, Girl Scouts, The Links, Inc., NAACP, National Urban League, and YWCA. She is a docent at the Burke Museum of the University of Washington.
Zelma Watson George, a sociologist, diplomat, and opera singer, graduated from the University of Chicago in 1924. Before her father, the Rev. Samuel Watson, died in 1925, he asked her to help educate the five younger children; this took close to 20 years. She held positions as a social worker, probation officer to the juvenile court in Chicago, dean of women and director of personnel administration at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University, and executive director of Avalon Community Center in Los Angeles. After she married Clayborne George in 1944, he encouraged her to sing the title role in a Cleveland production of Menotti's The Medium, thus launching her career as an opera singer. She sang this role on Broadway and over the years has appeared in a number of opera productions in Cleveland and elsewhere. She received her Ph.D. in sociology in 1954 from New York University, with her dissertation, A Guide to Negro Music. Dr. George's diplomatic career was launched in 1959 by a six month tour of the world with a grant from the State Department. In 1960 she was appointed a member of the U.S. delegation to the 15th General Assembly of the United Nations. On December 16, 1960, she received instant recognition around the world when she rose alone among the U.S. delegation with spontaneous applause for a resolution recommending a "speedy and unconditional end to colonialism." The resolution had passed with a vote of 89 to 0, with nine abstentions, including the United States. From 1968 to 1974, Dr. George was executive director of the Cleveland Job Corps Center, operated by AKA. She is active in The Links, Inc. and has served on the boards of the World Federalists and the International Peace Academy. She was honored in 1974 by an Ohio Zelma George Day, and received the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Award in 1961, the Dahlberg Peace Award in 1969, and the Mary Bethune Gold Medallion in 1973.
Frances Grant's career as a teacher at Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School and the Fieldston School spanned a half century. Born in Boston, the older of two daughters of Fannie Bailey and George F. Grant, a dentist who invented the artificial palate, she attended Girls' Latin School. Miss Grant graduated from Radcliffe College in 1917, and was the first Black woman elected to the Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. She was instrumental in designing a top quality curriculum at Bordentown, including a course in Negro history and lectures by prominent Blacks to instill in students an awareness of Black achievement. In 1949 she received her master's degree in education from New York University. Her rare gift of conveying insight and appreciation for each person's potential was recognized by her former students at a testimonial dinner in 1975. Her many volunteer activities included working with soldiers during both world wars and recording the classics for the blind.
The eldest of eight children of a farming family in Georgia, Ardie Clark Halyard spent her early days working at home and in the fields. Because her parents, William and Annie Louise Jeter Clark, were determined that their children should receive good educations, she was sent away to grade school and to the high school at Atlanta University. She graduated in 1920 from Atlanta University Teachers' College and soon moved to Wisconsin with her husband, Wilbur Halyard. Although they did not have much money, they immediately began to help her brothers and sisters with their educations. She and her husband founded the Columbia Savings and Loan Association, an organization chartered in 1924 to improve the housing situation for Blacks in the Milwaukee area. During the day, Mrs. Halyard was employed by Goodwill Industries, where she served in several capacities, eventually becoming director of rehabilitation. At night, she donated her clerical skills to the savings and loan association, and after 20 years left Goodwill to work full time as assistant managing director. She has also been secretary/treasurer, managing officer, and chairperson of the board at Columbia. Work in Wisconsin branches of the NAACP and with the United Negro College Fund have figured prominently among Mrs. Halyard's community activities.
An accomplished artisan and craftswoman, Pleasant Harrison represents a direct link to handicrafts of more than 100 years ago. She is a skilled spinner, weaver, and needleworker, making fabrics from the fibers of plants grown in her garden. The third of the six children of Richard and Elizabeth Adams Haynes, she was born in South Carolina. At an early age she was sent to live with her grandfather, Charlie Adams, a self-taught doctor who introduced her to herbal medicine; she became proficient in making herbal medicines, wines, soaps, and dyes. Mrs. Harrison has worked as a domestic, taken care of sick people in their homes, and been a skilled sewing machine operator in a factory making upholstery and clothing for the U.S. Marine Corps. Although diagnosed as having terminal cancer in 1949, she made a complete recovery, which she attributed to the extensive knowledge and use of herbs and other natural remedies. In 1961 she began construction of her house in Chesilhurst, N.J., and has completed the designing, wiring, plumbing, and carpentry herself over the years. An active member of the Baptist Church, she is also a member of the local planning and health boards, and presently cares for handicapped people in her home. She lectures on old-time crafts and remedies and demonstrates her fabric techniques with her loom and 120-year-old spinning wheel.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman is a consultant on education, African American studies, and urban affairs. She helped to organize the 1963 march on Washington and in other ways helped to prepare the climate that made possible the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. She was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the eldest of the seven children of William J. and Marie Parker Arnold. The family moved to Minnesota when she was two years old. She attended public schools there and graduated from Hameline University in St. Paul in 1922. She later studied at the University of Minnesota and at the New York School of Social Work. Her first job was as a teacher at Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss., where she came up against the segregated society of the Deep South, but nonetheless resolved to stay for two years. From 1924 to 1934 she worked as an executive with the YWCA in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In 1933, she married Merritt Hedgeman, a concert singer. Thereafter she worked in several government agencies, including the New York City Department of Welfare and the Office of Civilian Defense (1944); she was the first Black person appointed to a high level in DHEW (1949-53). She was also executive director of the National Council for a Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (1944-45). Living in New York since 1953, she served as a member of Mayor Wagner's cabinet, 1954-58, and was the first woman to hold such a position. She was New York City's official representative to the observance of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations in 1955. A participant in international conferences in India, the Middle East, Germany, Japan, and The Hague, Dr. Hedgeman was the keynote speaker in Ghana in 1960 at the first conference of the Women of Africa and African Descent. She has also served on the staff of the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches, and on the board of directors of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Memberships include NAACP, Urban League, AKA, and Eastern Star. Her first book, The Trumpet Sounds, published in 1964, is in its third printing; her latest book, The Gift of Chaos, was published in 1977.
Public service and social action are the intertwining strands in Dorothy Height's life. By the age of 14 she was president of the Pennsylvania State Federation of Girls' Clubs. She graduated from New York University in 1924 after three years of study, and received her master's degree in educational psychology the following year. One of the first elected officers of the United Christian Youth Movement and active in the Harlem Christian Youth Council, she participated in a select planning group with Eleanor Roosevelt for the World Youth Congress in 1938. She was an investigator and special investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare and supervisor of a district in Brooklyn. Her long professional affiliation with the YWCA began in 1937 when she became assistant director of the Emma Ransom House in Harlem, and then executive of the Phillis Wheatley YWCA in Washington, D.C. Her involvement in the 1947 YWCA convention led to the adoption of its first interracial charter and she thereafter became director of the YWCA's Center for Racial Justice. Miss Height's affiliation with the NCNW also began in the 1930s and she has been president since 1957. A leader in the civil rights movement, she was a member of the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, a group which focused on issues of racism and organized the 1963 march on Washington. Ms. Height taught at the Delhi School of Social Work in India in 1952, traveled to South America in 1959 under the auspices of International Seminars, and in the 1960s and 1970s undertook assignments in Africa for the State Department and the Agency for International Developrnent. A recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award from the National Conference on Social Welfare, she has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the President's Commission on the Status of Women.
A social worker in Boston, Beulah Hester was instrumental in developing many programs for the elderly. The oldest daughter of Robert and Pattie Gilliam Shepard, she was born in Oxford, N.C. Following graduation from the normal course at Hartshorn School in Richmond, Va., she taught school in Virginia and the Carolinas. She resumed her education at Fisk University, but when her father died, took a job as a county demonstration agent to help support the family. In 1918, she married William Hester and moved to Greensboro, N.C., where he was a Baptist minister. There Mrs. Hester played the organ for the church, gave music lessons, and taught in local schools, until her husband's appointment to the Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston. In Boston, she returned to school at the Simmons College School of Social Work and, after graduation, worked at the Robert Gould Shaw House, organizing related church and community programs for the elderly. She was the first Black person appointed to the Board of Overseers of Public Welfare in Boston, serving four terms from 1950 to 1961. Her interest in the elderly continued past retirement to include work at the Roxbury YMCA and Freedom House, a social service agency. Following her return to her hometown of Oxford, N.C., in 1970, Mrs. Hester remained active in church work and was founder of a local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. Other organizations in which she participated included the National Association of Social Workers and the North Carolina Council of Social Workers.
Born in Washington, D.C., May Edwards was the eldest child of Marie Coakley and Thomas W. Edwards and sister to Lena Edwards, also a project interviewee. She attended the M Street High School, and in April 1918, just prior to graduation from Howard University, was secretly married to Daniel G. Hill, Jr. Her husband was sent overseas in June 1918, and she worked as a clerk in the War Risk Bureau and as a substitute teacher. Upon his return, he entered the ministry, with assignments that took the family to Kansas City, Denver, and Portland. In Oregon, Mrs. Hill founded Etude and other groups to foster awareness of Black history and culture. In 1933, after moving to California, she completed two years of graduate study in social work at the University of California at Berkeley. Upon graduation, she was appointed social worker and executive director of a home for dependent children. Involvement in USO activities during World War II was interrupted by a serious illness. She returned to Washington in 1945 when her husband was named Dean of Howard University School of Religion. She was very proud of her four children and 16 grandchildren and at the time of her interview lived on a piece of property that had been in her family for more than 100 years.
Margaret Cardozo Holmes has contributed her artistic talent and scientific curiosity to the development of Cardozo Sisters Hairstylists, founded by her sister, Elizabeth Cardozo Barker, in 1928. She first learned about working with hair as a child in her grandmother's prosperous beauty shop in Atlantic City and was influenced by her aunt, the noted sculptress, Meta Warrick Fuller, who wished to adopt her and train her as an artist. In becoming a hair stylist she found an outlet for her talents. With her knowledge of the chemistry of hair, she has helped manufacturers develop new products for relaxing hair. She worked with her sisters to make Cardozo Sisters one of the most successful beauty shops in Washington, D.C., known for its ability to care for and style all types of hair. Her high standards for the employees raised the shop to a professional level unusual for the industry in the 1930s. In charge of personnel for the shop, she offered rehabilitation, training, and jobs for Black women who could not take full-time jobs. Mrs. Holmes is married to Eugene Clay Holmes, who was a professor of philosophy at Howard University.
A primitive painter from the Cane River area of Louisiana, Clementine Hunter has given the world a unique record of Black plantation life in the South. Although Mrs. Hunter was unable to read or write, her paintings of weddings, funerals, cottonpicking, pecan harvests, and washdays stand as witness to a rural culture which is vanishing from the American landscape. Born into a Creole family on a plantation in Louisiana, she was sent to a Catholic school, but soon left to pick cotton and work in the fields. As a young girl she moved to Melrose Plantation and after many years of working outside, was brought into the "Big House" to serve as a maid and cook. In the early 1940s she began experimenting with some paints and brushes left at the house by an artist from New Orleans. Painting on anything she could find--cardboard, paper bags, and sometimes canvasses--Mrs. Hunter soon caught the attention of artists visiting the plantation. Her first public showing in Louisiana was at the New Orleans Arts and Crafts Gallery in 1949. Her paintings have been exhibited in many museums and galleries, including the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Anderson-Hopkins Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Cleveland Museum of Art. In 1979 the Division of Arts of the state of Louisiana commissioned a painting depicting life on a plantation at harvest time. "Louisiana Harvest" now hangs in the state capitol building in Baton Rouge.
The life of Ellen Swepson Jackson, a dean and director of affirmative action at Northeastern University since 1978, has been one of involvement, often at the grass roots level, in local and national activities directed toward economic, educational, and political change. For two years in the early 1960s she coordinated, for the Northern Student Movement in Boston, parents groups concerned about the unequal education of the children. She is particularly noted for her work as founder/executive director of Operation Exodus, an inner city busing program in Boston, which transported more than 1000 students to less crowded schools. She is co-author of Family Experiences in Operation Exodus, Inc., published in 1967. She was executive director of the Black Women's Community Development Foundation in 1969 and 1970; project/contract director in the Massachusetts Bureau of Equal Educational Opportunity; and director of Freedom House's Institute on Schools and Education. She has been a delegate to several White House Conferences, including "To Fulfill These Rights" (1966), Children and Youth (1970) and Nutrition and Health (1970). Educated at Boston State Teachers College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she has been a fellow at the Institute of Politics of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been and continues to be affiliated with numerous organizations and boards, including the Governor's Community Development Coordinating Council, the Committee for Boston, and Women in Politics. She was cofounder and board member of the Young Women's Leadership Development Program, which offered free services to young women from poor neighborhoods. Always an active member of the Democratic Party, she has been a delegate to various conventions. She is also the recipient of awards, honors, citations from many organizations, including the NAACP, Zeta Phi Beta, and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women; perhaps the most meaningful tribute was the naming of the Ellen S. Jackson Day Care Center in Boston for her.
Fidelia Johnson's life has been dedicated to developing and improving teacher education throughout Louisiana. In 1901 her father founded an industrial school for Blacks, which is now Grambling State University. Mrs. Johnson grew up there and after graduation from Tuskegee Institute in 1929, returned to teach home economics and teacher training at Grambling. She also coached girls' basketball and served as dean of women. Until retirement in 1970, she worked to meet the needs of students at Grambling, establishing programs that facilitated job placement after graduation. She has been active in the American Home Economics Association, its Louisiana affiliate, and the Louisiana Education and Teachers' associations.
A renowned painter and watercolorist, Lois Jones showed a strong interest in art from an early age. Born in Boston, the daughter of Carolyn Dorida Adams and Thomas Vreeland Jones, she won a four-year scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts School, graduating in 1927. In 1928 she studied at the Designers Art School also in Boston. Then she moved to North Carolina, where she taught physical education and was head of the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute for two years. It was in 1930 that she went to Howard University as an art teacher and while there earned an A.B. degree in art education; she continued at Howard as an instructor and later as Associate Professor of Design and Professor of Design and Watercolor. Receiving grants from the General Education Board in 1937 and 1938, she spent a year of study in Paris, at the Academie Julian, and a summer in Italy. A discussion with Alain Locke in the 1940s led her to paint Black subjects and begin her contributions to the "New Negro" movement. After her marriage in 1953 to Vergniaud Pierre-Noel, a former classmate at Columbia University and respected Haitian graphic artist, she began to paint works depicting Haitian life and landscapes. When Howard University awarded her a research grant in 1970 to study contemporary African art, she toured 11 countries and interviewed many African artists. She began to incorporate elements of African design into her painting. She has had more than 40 one-woman shows in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Haiti, and her paintings are in the permanent collections of more than 16 museums and galleries. Her many honors include decoration by the Haitian government in 1954 and election as a fellow of London's Royal Society of Arts in 1963.
The eldest daughter of Frank L. and Fannie B. Williams, both graduates of Berea College, Susie Williams Jones has been involved with education for most of her life. Born in Danville, KY., she graduated from the University of Cincinnati and studied at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, where she met David Dallas Jones. In 1926, sometime after their marriage, he was appointed president of Bennett College, where they raised their four children. After her husband's death in 1956, she served the college as director of admissions until retirement in 1964. She was active in the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, and served on the executive committee of the North Carolina Federation of Negro Women's Clubs. Involved with the women's group of the Methodist Church, she was a member of the Board of Missions and Church Extension and of the Department of Christian Social Relations. She was national vice-president of the United Council of Church Women. In 1969, Mrs. Jones was awarded a life membership in the North Carolina Council of Church Women. The Susie W. Jones Award, established at Bennett college, is the highest honor given to an alumna.
Virginia Lacy Jones has been associated with the Atlanta University School of Library Service since its inception in 1941, serving as dean since 1945. Born in Cincinnati, she was the only child of Edward and Ellen Parker Lacy. Eighteen months old when her father died, her mother moved with her to West Virginia. Miss Lacy attended Sumner High School in St. Louis. She graduated from Hampton Institute in 1933 with a bachelor's degree in library science and worked as an assistant librarian at Louisville Municipal College in Kentucky before returning to Hampton for a bachelor's degree in education. For two years, she served as head librarian at Louisville while also teaching library science at Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical Institute during the summers. Upon completion of her master's degree in library science at the University of Illinois, she became head of the catalog department at Trevor Arnett Library at Atlanta University. She traveled extensively as a consultant for the university, surveying administration, organization, and curricula in library schools, and was appointed to the faculty when the library school opened in 1941. She received her doctorate in 1945 from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago. An active member of several state and national library organizations, including the Association of American Library Schools, and the American Library Association (ALA), where she served a five-year term on the executive board, she was appointed in 1967 to the President's Advisory Committee on Library Research and Training Projects. Among her many honors are two awards from the ALA in recognltlon of her outstanding work and commitment in the field of library science.
A civic activist and educator, Hattie Kelly dedicated more than 50 years of service to the town of Tuskegee and to Tuskegee Institute. Born in North Carolina, she attended high school at the Institute; she continued to study summers, and taught at Children's House, the demonstration school of Tuskegee. She then became principal of an elementary school in Snow Hill, Ala. Following her marriage to Frank West, she returned to Tuskegee, completing her undergraduate degree in 1934, and continuing as principal of Children's House. After the death of her husband, she enrolled in a doctoral program in educational administration at New York University. In 1944 she returned to Tuskegee to act as dean of the School of Education. She was appointed dean of women in 1945, a position she held until her retirement in 1962. In. 1957 she married the Reverend Charles Kelly. She was involved in many educational projects, including setting up play schools in Alabama. Her numerous interests included the Southern Vocational College, Tuskegee Women's Club and the Federation of Women's Clubs, Red Cross, chairing the Vocational Services, Parent Teacher Association, and NCNW.
Maida Kemp has been active in the trade union movement for almost 50 years--from participating in the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) general strike of 1933, to coordlnating a meeting of African trade union women in 1978 in Kenya. Born in Panama, at the age of seven she emigrated with her mother to New York City. Because of her mother's involvement with Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, she was exposed to political activism at an early age. She graduated from Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School, and became a licensed beautician after study at the Malone School of Beauty Culture. In 1932 she went to work as a finisher, doing hand sewing in a garment shop. She soon joined the ILGWU and was a member of one of the strike committees during the 1933 walkout. After serving her own Local 22 in various capacities, in 1942 she was appointed education director of Local 132, the Plastic Button and Novelty Workers' Union. In 1947 she returned to Local 22, working for 13 years as business agent, the first Black to hold the position. She has traveled as a representative of the American labor movement to England, the Scandinavian countries, Africa, and has studied at Ruskin College, Oxford. Membershlps lnclude the NAACP, NOW, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. In 1975 as vice-president of the NCNW she attended the Internatlonal Women's Year meeting in Mexico City.
A distinguished educator and home economist, Flemmie Kittrell attended Hampton Institute high school and college, receiving a bachelor of science degree in 1924. She then went to Bennett College for 12 years as head of the home economics department and dean of women. During her time there, she earned her master's degree and doctorate from Cornell University. She returned to Hampton as dean of women from 1940 to 1944, then moved to Howard University to teach for almost 30 years and to head the home economics department. A Fulbright award in 1950 sent her to Baroda University in India to establish a college of home economics and develop a research program on nutrition. She was the first to explore the possibilities for international cooperation in home economics in Africa, completing research studies and serving as a consultant in several West and Central African countries and elsewhere for the U.S. Information Service, the Agency for International Development, the State Department, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. After retiring from Howard in 1973, she was appointed visiting postdoctoral research fellow at Cornell University's College of Human Ecology and continued her work as senior research fellow at the Moton Center for Independent Studies in Philadelphia. She was a member of AAAS, AAUW, and WILPF. The Dr. Flemmie Kittrell Fellowship for Minorities, established in 1972 by the American Home Economics Association, attests to her achievements and contributions in the field.
Abna Aggrey Lancaster taught English and world literature for more than 40 years in public high schools and at Livingstone College in North Carolina. She had "a sense of joy in seeing young people develop." Both parents were teachers; her father taught at Livingstone College. Until she reached fifth grade, Abna Aggrey was taught by her mother, who did not work outside the home until after her husband's death. Miss Aggrey attended the high school department of Livingstone, then Shaw College. After teaching for one year in Winston-Salem, she returned to Salisbury, where she married Spencer Lancaster, also a teacher. They both taught at Price High School in Salisbury for more than 20 years. Mrs. Lancaster then spent 14 years as a teacher at Livingstone, where her concern for the students, and especially the foreign students, led them to call her "Mother." While at Livingstone, she also chaired the admissions committee, was faculty representative to the board of trustees, corresponding secretary of Poets and Dreamers Garden Association, and secretary of the English department. She retired in 1977. Mrs. Lancaster was appointed by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church as a delegate to the World Council of Churches meeting in Nairobi in 1975; she was also a charter member of the board of directors of the Salisbury Symphony and a member of the Business and Professional Women's Club.
A pioneer in providing essential health care to the rural poor in Alabama, Eunice Laurie devoted more than 50 years to the nursing profession. The eldest of three daughters of a Georgia farming family, she graduated from the nursing program at Tuskegee Institute in 1922. First, she worked for the Movable School, a bus which traveled through rural sections to teach such skills as husbandry, canning, and midwifery. In 1932, through association with the state health department, she began working wlth the U.S. government study on venereal disease in Macon County, serving as a link between the doctors and the outlying communitles. At the same time, she continued her work in the maternity and well-baby clinics at John Andrew Hospital in Tuskegee. Retiring officially in 1965, Mrs. Laurie turned to work with the county health department maternity clinics for another ten years. She has been described as a health adviser, a housing adviser, a financial adviser, a spiritual adviser, and a moral adviser. She is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Oveta Culp Hobby Award and the DHEW Distinguished Service Award.
Catherine Cardozo Lewis contributed her organizational talents and business skills to Cardozo Sisters Hairstylists, founded by her sister Elizabeth Cardozo Barker in 1928. The youngest child of Francis L. and Blanche Warrick Cardozo, Catherine attended a convent school in Philadelphia and Spelman Seminary before graduating from Dunbar High School. While attending Hunter College, she married Harold O. Lewis and soon transferred to Pratt Institute to study dressmaking. After her husband's graduation from college, the couple moved to Washington, where Mrs. Lewis worked in the Census Bureau until she became ill. She returned to work first as a volunteer secretary to the local Rochdale Co-op and the Garfield Heights Citizens' Association. She then worked at the Co-op as a paid employee, earning bookkeeping. In 1949 she joined Cardozo Sisters, serving as general manager until her retirement in 1965. She has continued to assist her husband, a member of the history department at Howard University, with his research on Black seamen.
For 22 years, Inabel Burns Lindsay served as dean of the Howard University School of Social Work, which she helped establish in the late 1930s. The youngest in a family of six children, Inabel Burns was encouraged to attend Howard University by her mother, Margaret Hartshorn Burns, and her brother Ocie. After graduating in 1920, she was awarded an Urban League fellowship to the New York School of Social Work. She returned home because of her mother's failing health and taught in the public schools until her marriage in 1925 to Arnett Grant Lindsay, who had studied Negro history under Carter G. Woodson. The Lindsays moved to St. Louis, where Mrs. Lindsay worked as a case worker and later as district superintendent. In 1937 she received her master's degree in social work from the University of Chicago, and was asked to come to Howard University to teach and to assist in establishing a school of social work. The new school was approved in 1944, and she was made dean the following year. She received a doctorate in social work from the University of Pittsburgh in 1952. After her retirement from Howard in 1967, Dr. Lindsay acted as a special consultant to DHEW and to the Senate Committee on Aging, and was a board member of the National Council on Aging and the National Urban League. In 1974 the Metropolitan Washington chapter of the National Association of Social Workers named Inabel Lindsay "Social Worker of the Year."
Miriam Matthews worked as a librarian in the Los Angeles Public Library system for more than 30 years, and was one of the first librarians to stimulate interest in Negro History Week. The daughter of Reuben Hearde and Fannie Elijah Matthews, she was born in Florida and educated in California. Graduating from the School of Librarianship of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1927, she first was a substitute at several branch libraries in Los Angeles; next, assistant to the librarian at Robert Louis Stevenson branch, and then librarian in charge at the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch. In 1934, she became head librarian of the Vernon Branch; after six years, she took a leave of absence to work for six months at The New York Public Library. Returning to Los Angeles, she became head of both the Vernon and Watts branches. Miss Matthews received her master's degree from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago in 1945. When the Los Angeles library system was reorganized in 1949, she became a regional librarian, retiring after 11 years to give her attention to her other interests--a large personal collection of books, pictures, and documents pertaining to the early Black settlers of California and an art collection of canvasses and objects from around the world. Miss Matthews has held many positions with the American Library Association, including a term on the Council. Very active in the battle against censorship, she was a member of the ALA'S Committee on Intellectual Freedom and chairperson of the California committee. She is the author of The Negro in California 1781-1910: an Annotated Bibliography and Race Relations on the Pacific Coast: a Select Bibliography.
Eliza Champ McCabe was a music teacher in private and public schools in Louisiana, Texas, and Washington for 65 years. Born in Louisiana and educated in Texas, she studied music at Wiley College. As a soprano soloist touring with the college choir, Eliza Champ was known as "The Nightingale of Texas." She became head of the music department at Gilbert Academy in Baldwin, LA., for two years, before returning to Texas to teach in the public schools. After the death of her husband, Lionel Vergil Gordon, in 1916, she went back to school to receive certification from the American Institute of Normal Methods at Northwestern University. She implemented a music program for Black students in the Beaumont, Tex., schools; organized a music club for adults; held choral contests; directed the church choir: and taught piano to private students. She established the Texas branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians and served as president for ten years. When she married Louis McCabe and moved to Tacoma in 1933, she was refused a teaching position in the public schools because of her race. She thereupon took positions with the WPA and as a practical nurse until her private piano classes were able to support her and her husband, who had become blind. She has been a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union since 1909, was president of the Washington State Association of Colored Women's Clubs from 1943 to 1951, and also affiliated with AAUW, NAACP, and NACWC.
A specialist in early childhood education, Lucy Miller Mitchell has devoted almost 50 years to teaching, to improving standards of child care, and to implementing local and federal child care programs. Born in Daytona Beach, Fla., she lived with her mother, Laura Clayton Miller, and was educated from kindergarten through high school at Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute. There, she witnessed Mary McLeod Bethune courageously face down the Ku Klux Klan. Graduating from Talladega College in 1922, she returned to the Daytona school to teach for one year. Although Mrs. Bethune and the trustees of the school expressed a wish that the "mantle of leadership" should pass to her, Miss Miller chose marriage to Joseph Mitchell and a move to Boston. Concern for the education of their two children led her into the field which became her life work. She took courses at the Nursery Training School with Abigail A. Eliot, receiving certification in 1934, and was awarded a master's degree in early childhood education from Boston University in 1935. As director of the nursery school at Robert Gould Shaw House from 1932 to 1953, she developed a model school to which many students were sent for field work and practice teaching. She was a member of the structuring committee of Associated Day Care Services of Metropolitan Boston, and later its educational director and acting executive director. In 1953 the governor of Massachusetts appointed Mrs. Mitchell to a special commission to study the licensing of day care agencies; licensing legislation was passed after ten years' effort. After retirement from the Associated Day Care Services, she trained Peace Corps volunteers to work with children, was a consultant to National Head Start, and helped launch and implement the local Boston programs. Mrs. Mitchell has served on the boards of many agencies, including United Community Services of Metropolitan Boston and the Boston YWCA; she was president of the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children and was among a small group that helped Muriel Snowden (another project interviewee) and her husband Otto Snowden establish Freedom House in Roxbury. Memberships include The Links, Inc., and AKA.
Audley Moore, known as Queen Mother Moore, for many years has been active in the struggles of Black people in the United States and Africa. She completed school only to the third or fourth grade, but later in life was encouraged by Mary McLeod Bethune and Lawrence Reddick to begin public speaking on behalf of Black liberation. Learning of Marcus Garvey in 1919, she became a member of his Universal Negro Improvement Association, bought stock in the Black Star Line, and was planning to move to Africa. Because of family concerns, she stayed in the United States and in 1922 moved to Harlem. She became involved in street meetings and demonstrations, boycotts, and from 1930 to 1950 was a member of the Communist Party. She worked for the defense of the Scottsboro boys, was on the Committee to End Jim Crow in Baseball, and worked in two campaigns to elect Benjamin Davis to the City Council of New York. She was founder-president of the Reparations Committee of U.S. Slaves, which filed a claim in a California court in 1962; founder-president of the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women; and a founding member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church of North and South America. She has traveled to Europe, the West Indies, and to Africa several times, attending Nkrumah's funeral, FESTAC in Nigeria in 1977, and in Ghana being initiated as Queen Mother of the Ashanti tribe.
A domestic worker for more than 50 years, Annie Mae Nipson was brought up by her mother, Louisa Moore, and started her career at the age of ten as a live-in maid for a family in Asheville, N.C. She was professionally trained in domestic science at the Biltmore School, which was sponsored by the Vanderbilt family. The Vanderbilts employed her upon graduation. She also worked for the Graham family using her skills as a cook and flower arranger. She and her husband, John William Nipson, Jr., moved North in 1917 seeking higher paying jobs and better educational opportunities for their children. Choosing Clearfield, Pa., because a friend lived there, she maintained the offices of Robinson Clay Works, where her husband worked, for over 20 years. Still living in Clearfield, Mrs. Nipson has raised a family of six children and has been an active supporter of her church.
Rosa Parks's deliberate decision to test the practice of Jim Crow was the catalyst that triggered the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. The daughter of James and Leona Edwards McCauley, she grew up in Pine Level, Ala., and was sent away to a private girls' school in Montgomery at the age of 11. She later met Raymond Parks, a serious young barber with whom she spent many hours discussing the burden and injustice of the racial situation; they married in 1932. Mr. Parks was a member of the National Committee to Save the Scottsboro Boys, and she soon joined him in becoming active in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, serving as secretary and youth adviser. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. Her arrest and the subsequent development of a 381-day bus boycott by tens of thousands heralded a new phase in the civil rights movement. The Black community formed the Montgomery Improvement Association, electing as president Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mrs. Parks served for a time on its board of directors. Fired from her job as an assistant tailor in a department store, she stayed in Montgomery until the boycott forced an end to all dIscriminatory practices on the bus lines. In 1957 she and her husband moved to Detroit, Mich., where in 1965 she took a part-time job as receptionist and administrative aide in the office of Congressman John Conyers. She was the first woman in 198O to receive the Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Peace Prize. There is a National Committee for the Rosa L. Parks Shrine, organized to commemorate her life by the establishment of a home and library.
Lucy Rucker Aiken, Neddie Rucker Harper, and Hazel Rucker are members of a distinguished and politically active Black family in Georgia. They are the granddaughters of Jefferson Long, the first Black Congressman from Georgia, and the daughters of Annie E. Long and Henry Allan Rucker, who after appointment by President McKinley, was for 13 years collector of internal revenue for the state of Georgia. The three sisters attended public school in Atlanta and graduated from the normal department of Atlanta University. Lucy Rucker worked in the Civil Service in Washington and married Walter Aiken in 1920. In 1921 he began his own real estate business in Atlanta. Mrs. Aiken worked with him in the management of the business from 1925 until his death in 1965, and still administers the company's rental division. Neddie Rucker married Lawrence Harper, a physics teacher at Atlanta University. In 1929 when he became dean of men at Paine College, they moved to Augusta, Ga. After her husband's death, Mrs. Harper returned to Atlanta. Hazel Rucker began teaching school in Atlanta in 1918. She received a bachelor's degree in 1932 from Morehouse College and a master's degree from Atlanta University in 1945. She retired from teaching in 1964 and lives with her sister Lucy Rucker Aiken.
Esther Mae Scott, a singer, composer, and guitar player, affectionately known as Mother Scott, was one of the last of the great era of Mississippi Blues singers. She grew up in Warren County, Miss., on the Polk Plantation, where she worked picking cotton and peanuts. She had only about two years of schooling, and learned to play the guitar when she was eight years old. She joined a traveling medicine show when she was 14 claiming that she was 16, and had an opportunity to play with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Disillusioned with this way of life, she left in two years and entered domestic service. After meeting Leadbelly, she obtained consent from her employer to travel with him and Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong on short engagements. After working 34 years for the same family, she was dismissed, the only compensation offered being a return ticket to Mississippi, which she refused. In 1958 she settled in Washington, D.C., and soon became active in St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. When she was about 70 years old, the rector of the church heard her playing on a borrowed guitar. Recognizing her talent, he purchased a guitar for her and soon a new career opened. She played on television and radio, in colleges and universities, clubs and coffee houses; she played at civil rights demonstrations. She played for many church groups, including the worldwide Episcopal General Convention and at the Washington National Cathedral; she participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival several times. Mother Scott recorded her first album, "Mama Ain't Nobody's Fool," when she was 78 years old.
Julia Hamilton Smith a teacher for more than 40 years in the Washington, D.C., public schools, continued the family tradition of service to church and community. She was the granddaughter of John J. Smith, an active Boston abolitionist, and the daughterof Julia Luke Brooks and Hamilton Smith, a dentist and lawyer. She attended school in Columbus, Ind., and the M Street High School in Washington, D.C., then was barred from taking the entrance exams to Miner Normal School in Washington because she was only 16 years of age. With her father's legal help she successfully challenged the law requiring an entrance age of 18. When she completed the two-year course, in 1904 she was the youngest person appointed to the Washington public school system. She received a bachelor's degree in education from Howard University and attended summer courses at Columbia, Harvard, and Boston Universities. She retired from teaching in 1947 and moved to Cambridge, Mass., to care for her ailing brother. In Washington, she had been instrumental in a fund-raising drive to payoff a large debt of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, was involved in the beginnings of the Washington Chapter of the NAACP, and was a volunteer for the YWCA. In Cambridge, she worked 15 years as a volunteer for the YWCA and was in the forefront of a successful protest against construction of a thoroughfare that would have cut through the city. In Boston, she worked for Edward Brooke's successful campaign as attorney general and managed the office in his first campaign for the U.S. Senate. She was also a member of the first board of the Museum of Afro-American History and donated to the Museum the photographs taken by her father as a hobby at the turn of the century.
Muriel Sutherland Snowden was cofounder and codirector of Freedom House, a nationally-known social service agency developed to promote interracial understanding and cooperation and effective citizen participation in urban renewal. The daughter of Reiter Thomas and William Henry Sutherland, a dentist, she was born and educated in New Jersey. Following her graduation from Radcliffe College in 1938, she worked with the Essex County (N.J.) Welfare Board as a social work investigator for old age assistance. For the first time in her life she was exposed to the kind of desperate conditions in which the poor Black citizens of Newark, N.J., lived. After five years, she felt that systematic change could be accomplished more readily by community organization than through individual casework. She entered the New York School of Social Work on an Urban League fellowship to study community organization and race relations. Following her marriage to Otto Snowden and the birth of a daughter, in 1945 she returned to Boston. She and her husband were determined to make changes in the community where they lived, and in 1949 began to lay the groundwork for what was to become Freedom House. Mrs. Snowden was executive director of the Cambridge (Mass.) Civic Unity Committee until 1950, then she left to devote full-time efforts to Freedom House. Beginning in 1958, she taught community organization for twelve years at the Simmons College School of Social Work. She served on the boards of many organizations, including the University of Massachusetts, the Associated Harvard Alumni, the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association, Babson College, the Shawmut Bank, the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, and the Racial Imbalance Committee of the Massachusetts Department of Education. She received the Radcliffe College Alumna Award in 1964 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in 1968. She retired from Freedom House in 1984.
Olivia Pearl Stokes, an educator of exceptional versatility and an ordained Baptist minister, has served the Protestant Church and the Baptist denomination both nationally and locally in developing and administering programs in religious education. A member of a prominent family of landowners in North Carolina, she and her mother, Bessie Thomas Stokes (later Mrs. Vann), moved to New York City in 1925 after the death of her father, William Harmon Stokes. There she attended public school and was an active member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and the YWCA in Harlem. For a time she attended Hunter College High School, an academy for gifted children, but after her stepfather's death changed the family financial situation, she transferred to Wadleigh High School in her last year, without telling her mother, and took the secretarial program. She was director of the information desk at the Harlem YWCA for six years, then in 1941 became associate director of the Baptist Educational Center in New York. During this period she also held posts with the New York State Christian Youth Council and the United Christian Youth Movement, and attended night school at City College. After transferring to New York University, she received a bachelor's degree in education in 1947 and a master's in religious education in 1948. Awarded a fellowship to Columbia University Teachers' College, in 1952 she became the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in religious education. In 1953, Dr. Stokes went to the Massachusetts Council of Churches as director of religious education, overseeing the direction and design of programs for over a million and a half Protestants in the Commonwealth. After her ordination in 1966, she worked for seven years at the National Council of Churches as associate director for urban education where she helped to design their Black Curriculum Resource Center. From 1973 to 1976 at City University of New York, she developed a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural teacher education program. She was instrumental in establishing the Greater Harlem Comprehensive Guidance Center, which she now serves as executive director. Since 1978 she has taught part-time in the School of Education at New York University and has served as an interim pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn. A worldwide traveler, she has led many study tours to Israel and West Africa and assisted in the development of a graduate teacher education program in five Nigerian universities. She is author of two children's books. In 1957, she received the Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, and in 1976 the NCNW's Bethune Award.
Ann Tanneyhill's 50-year involvement with the National Urban League began in Springfield, Mass., after graduation in 1928 from the secretarial course at Simmons College. Within two years she was asked to come to the national office in New York as secretary to the director of industrial relations. In 1929 she enrolled part-time in a master's degree program at Columbia University. In 1938 she received her degree in vocational guidance and personnel administration. From 1931 to 1946, she directed national efforts in the League's Vocational opportunity campaign, writing booklets and speeches, holding seminars for coaching applicants for civil service exams, and establishing career conferences in Black colleges. Reviewing the morning mail one day in 1946, she opened a two-sentence letter from a young man saying that he was interested in working for the Urban League. This was Whitney Young, who many years later, in 1961, became executive director of the League. He appointed Miss Tanneyhill assistant director for public relations. From 1968 until retiring in 1971, she was director of conferences, then continued to serve as a special assistant to the executive director. A member of the board of trustees of the National Vocational Guidance Association in the 1950s, she worked to abolish the segregated chapters. She was honored by this organization for her outstanding contributions to the field of guidance and in 1971 was a recipient of the Simmons College Alumnae Award. In 1970, the Urban League established the Ann Tanneyhill Award to be given to an employee who has demonstrated "commitment and dedication to the National Urban League through years of service."
Merze Tate, a specialist in international and diplomatic history, and in armaments and their limitations, was a professor of history at Howard University from 1942 to 1977. Impelled by the Homestead Act of 1872, her grandparents on both sides migrated from Ohio to Michigan, where Black families were beginning to settle. She was born in Blanchard, Mich., the second of three children of Myrtle K. Lett and Charles E. Tate. She attended county schools. After the tenth grade, she transferred to Battle Creek High School, graduating in 1923. She received a teacher's diploma from Western Michigan Teachers College in 1924 and taught for one year in a Cass County elementary School. In 1927, she was the first Black person to earn a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan College, completing a four-year program in three years. Since Michigan did not employ "colored" teachers in its secondary schools, the dean, registrar, and president of the college loaned her money to seek employment elsewhere. She taught at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, 1927-32, and studied summers at Teachers' College, Columbia University, receiving a master's degree in 1930. She entered Oxford University on an AKA Foreign Fellowship and in 1935 was the first Black person to earn a bachelor of literature degree. She also studied at Berlin University and the Geneva School of International Studies. She was dean of women and taught history at Barber-Scotia College in North Carolina, 1935-36, then accepted a position at Bennett College, where she taught history and political science for five years. In 1941 Radcliffe College awarded her a Ph.D. Dr. Tate was dean of women and taught political science at Morgan State University, 1941-42, when she was asked to come to Howard University as a professor of history. She spent the 1950-51 academic year in India as a Fulbright lecturer. She has been a member of the Screening Committee of the Institute of International Education for Fulbright awards to the United Kingdom; international advisor to the National Urban League; vice-president of the Radcliffe Club of Washington, D.C., 1961- 66; and on the advisory board of the DuBois Institute, Harvard University. She has done cinematography for several organizations, and in 1962 produced a film for the State Department; she also holds U.S. patents for two household appliances. She has been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, awards, and citations, including the Rosenwald Fellowship, the National Urban League Achievement Award in 1948, the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Graduate Chapter Medal for Distinguished Professional Service in 1953, the Radcliffe College Alumnae Achievement Award in 1979, and in 1981 the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
A long-time physician in Los Angeles, Ruth Temple specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, but found her life work in the field of preventive medicine and public health through the Total Health Program which she developed. As the second eldest of six children, she cared for the younger four children while her mother worked. These responsibilities gave her the idea of entering the medical field. A man who heard her say that she wanted to become a doctor paid her way through Lorna Linda University School of Medicine. After she graduated in 1918, Dr. Temple was first a general practitioner, but in 1923 began to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. While developing a private practice, she worked part time for the maternity department of the Los Angeles City Health Department from 1923 to 1928. Appalled at the conditions in southeast Los Angeles and at the lack of public and private concern and support for a clinic, she and her husband, Otis Banks, used their own funds to start Health Study Clubs with parents, slowly involving the whole community. From the clubs in 1928 came Community Health Day, Community Health Week (which began in 1945), and Health Information Centers--all part of the Total Health Program of the Community Health Association, carried throughout California and to other states. Dr. Temple was district health officer in southeast Los Angeles, assistant city health officer, and director of the division of Public Health Services. She was a member of the American Medical Association, the California Congress of Parents and Teachers, and Alpha Kappa Alpha.
An accomplished actress, orator and speech therapist, Constance Allen Thomas is a member of a prominent Seattle family. Her parents, Edward Alexander and Marjorie Marian Allen Pitter, were very involved in political and civil rights activities. She entered the University of Washington in 1935, where she was involved in theatrical productions both on campus and with the Works Progress Administration's Federal Theater. Graduatlng in 1939, she stayed another year to complete a degree in education and had to insist that the administration provide her equal opportunities to receive practice teaching assignments. In 1943, with no teaching appointments forthcoming, she moved to New York to work with the American Negro Theater; she also taught in Harlem for two years. Returning to Seattle in 1945 for a visit, she became ill and decided not to return to New York. After eleven years of trying to teach in Seattle public schools, she was hired for one semester as a substitute in speech therapy, but remained for 18 years until she became physically disabled. During this time she received additional training in working with the deaf and cerebral-palsied. Her numerous memberships have included the National Education Association, the Seattle Teachers Association, the Washington Speech and Hearing Association, NAACP, and the National Urban League. Several times she has been president of the Seattle chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. Mrs. Thomas has gathered material on the early Black settlers in the Northwest and on the development of Black communities in the state of Washington. She lectures frequently on topics in Black history and is assembling photographs, articles, and taped interviews with older members of the community.
A noted journalist and author, Era Bell Thompson worked for Johnson Publishing Company and Ebony for more than 30 years. The youngest child of Stewart C. and Mary V. Logan Thompson, she grew up in North Dakota and attended the University of North Dakota, where she had an outstanding athletic record in track. While at college she resided with the Dr. Robert E. O'Brian family, and accompanied them when he became president of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. She transferred her college credits and received a degree in English in 1933. Miss Thompson soon left for Chicago where she worked as a domestic. After taking the civil service examination, she became a senior interviewer for the U.S. Employment Service. In 1947 she went to Ebony magazine as a journalist and editor and in her work has traveled extensively throughout the world. Awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship given by the Newberry Library in 1945, the followlng year she published American Daughter, her recollections of growing up in North Dakota. Africa, Land of my Fathers, an account of her first trip to Africa, appeared in 1954. She was named Iota Phi Lambda's Outstanding Woman of the Year in 1965 and received the Capitol Press Club Award for journalism and the NCNW'S International Year plaque. She served on the boards of Hull-House and the Metropolitan YWCA, and was a trustee of the Chicago Public Library. Other affiliations included membership in the Associatlon for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, the Society of Midland Authors, and Zonta International.
Mary Crutchfield Thompson was one of the first Black women to graduate from Tufts University Dental School, and the first to practice dentistry in the Boston area. The only child of William and Lydia Hatch Crutchfield, she was born in North Carolina and grew up in Cambridge, Mass. After graduation from Tufts in 1930, she established a private practice, worked at the Boston Dispensary, and in addition founded the Children's Dental Clinic, a low-cost clinic for children held once a week in her home. Beginning in 1947, she worked for 24 years, first with the title dental assistant, then as a dentist in the Cambridge, Mass., public schools, and for several summers assisted in AKA's Mississippi Health Project. In 1948, she married Oscar Thompson and several years later they moved to Natick, Mass., into a previously all-white neighborhood. They actively brought Black and white families together and became founders and charter members of one of the first fair housing committees in the United States. In 1960 they traveled to Africa; later Dr. Thompson established a scholarship in Nigeria in memory of her mother. In 1938 the press of Boston awarded her a certificate in recognition of her contribution to the community in establishing the Children's Dental Clinic. She received an outstanding achievement award for her humanitarian services from the NAACP in 1973. In 1976 AKA, for which she had served as chapter president, established at Tufts Dental School a scholarship for Black female students, named for Dr. Thompson and her lifelong friend and colleague, Dr. Jessie Garnett.
Bazoline Usher rose through the ranks of the Atlanta public school system to become supervisor of Black education, at the time the highest position ever held by a Black person in the field of education in Atlanta. The daughter of Lavada Smith and Joe Samuel Usher, she attended Atlanta University's Laboratory High School and graduated from the College in 1906. She then spent ten years teaching in Virginia. Returning to Atlanta, over the next forty years, Miss Usher held a series of positions of increasing importance in the school system--as teacher, assistant principal, and principal. She studied at the graduate level at the University of Chicago, and in 1938 received a master's degree in education from Atlanta University. In 1944 she was appointed supervisor of education for Blacks in the Atlanta school system, and held that position until her retirement in 1954. She then taught at Spelman College for three years. She has been active in the Friendship Baptist Church, and is one of the original members of the Uplifters Club, a fund-raising and social outreach auxiliary of the church. Other memberships include AKA and the Girl Scouts, which she and Grace Hamilton introduced to Black girls in Atlanta in 1943. She received the Bronze Woman of the Year award from Iota Phi Lambda in 1946, a scroll of honor from Fort Valley State College in 1952, and was recognized by the Uplifters Club for meritorious service to the club, the community, and the church.
An ordained minister, and pastor and founder of the Perpetual Mission for Saving Souls of All Nations in Detroit, Charleszetta Waddles has been described as a "one-woman war on poverty." After the death of her father, Henry Campbell, when she was twelve, she left school to work as a maid and to care for her frail mother, Ella Brown Campbell. By the age of 19, she had been married and widowed and was herself a mother. A resourceful and tireless worker, she was a sorter in a rag factory and did domestic work. Married again to Le Roy Wash in 1936, she moved to Detroit. Due to her husband's unemployment a few years later, she and her five children were forced to go on welfare. During World War II, she and the children went to St. Louis to care for her dying mother. Upon returning to Detroit, as the mother of six, she applied for Aid to Families with Dependent Children. She lived for a time in a common-law marriage with Roosevelt, Sturkey and had four more children. She did not marry, fearing that the federal aid to the older children would be eliminated; her overriding concern was to keep all ten children together as a family. In 1956 she married Payton Waddles. Ordained a minister in a nondenominational church in 1956, she held prayer meetings for a group of six women who sought ways to creatively help others. In 1957, with food and clothing collected from this small group, she began what was to grow into the Perpetual Mission for Saving Souls of All Nations, a nonprofit association that exists entirely on private donations of material, money, and services. It reaches over 100,000 people a year, offering food, clothing, furniture, job training and placement, a variety of medical and legal services, and sponsoring low-cost housing. There are branches of the Mission in ten African countries, the first established in Ghana in 1974. Recognized by a United States President, governors, sororities, and social service agencies, she has received more than 100 honors and awards including the 1968 Sojourner Truth Award from the Detroit Club of the NACWC and the1973 Distinguished Citizen Award from Michigan State University. Mother Waddles, as she is called, has authored a tralnlng manual for missionaries and two cookbooks. She has also pulished an autobiography, Mother and the Way She Waddles, by Faith, and Self- Awareness According to the Holy Scriptures.
To our knowledge, Dorothy West is the only living writer of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Boston, the only child of Isaac Christopher and Rachel Benson West, she has pursued a literary career spanning 60 years. Demonstrating an early interest in writing, she had completed her first story by the age of seven, and by the age of ten was regularly winning prizes from the Boston Post for her stories. When she was nineteen she won second prize for an essay submitted to Opportunity magazine. She studied at Girls' High School (Boston), Boston University and the Columbia University School of Journalism. When she lived in New York, she became involved with the many writers, artists, philosophers, and musicians who made up the intellectual and artistic movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Carl Van Vechten encouraged her writing, and George Bye, a literary agent, helped her get stories published in New York magazines and in the Daily News. Miss West has worked as an actress, a social work investigator in Harlem, and as editor of two Black quarterlies published in the thirties, Challenge and New Challenge. She was among a group of twenty writers, including Ted Poston and Langston Hughes, who were invited by the Soviet Union to go there to make a film on Black life in the United States. Her novel The Living Is Easy was published in 1948 and reissued in 1982. Langston Hughes included her stories in his 1967 anthology, The Best Short Stories of Negro Writers. Residing in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard for the past 20 years, she works as a cashier in a restaurant, writes a weekly column for the Vineyard Gazette, and continues to work on her novels and short stories.
Addie Williams taught the first through fourth grades for over 50 years in the rural schools of Pittsylvania County, Va. The eldest of six children, she was born in Pittsylvania County to Jerry and Luvenia Smith Luck, who were both former slaves and who instilled in their children a great respect for education. She attended Shaw University in North Carolina for one year before returning to the Pittsylvania County school system. She married Pemberton Williams, a chauffeur, and they had seven children whom they raised with strict discipline and devotion to education, sending them to Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.; the children have pursued careers in such fields as medicine, law, and education. In her later years, Mrs. Williams traveled widely. At the time of her interview in 1977, she had 14 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. She died at the age of 108.
Committed to the improvement of race relations in the private and public spheres, Frances Williams and her older sister Susie Williams Jones (also a BWOHP interviewee) came from a family which placed great emphasis on education. Both parents, Fanny B. Miller and Frank Landsford Williams were college educated, and Mr. Williams was the only Black high school principal in St. Louis. Frances was valedictorian of her class at Sumner High School. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in sociology in 1919 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was later awarded a fellowship to the New York School of Social Work, completing her degree in 1921. For six years Miss Williams was a traveling secretary for the YWCA, working with college students in the South. She then assisted Harold Gosnell at the University of Chicago in the preparation of a book on Negro politicians. Returning to the YWCA from 1932 to 1940, she worked for the complete integration of that organization. Called to Washington in 1940, she became an administrator in the Office of Price Administration and worked to increase employment opportunities for Blacks within the agency. As a direct result of her efforts, fourteen percent of the OPA staff were Black at a time when the rest of the government agencies had no more than one percent. When the OPA was disbanded in 1948, she joined President Truman's Committee on Civil Rights and later worked as a research assistant to Senator Herbert Lehman of New York. Living in St. Louis since the late 19505, she has been active in community political life as an officer of the National Urban League and a member of the Missouri State Board of Education. In recognition of her many contributions, the Mount Holyoke Club of St. Louis nominated Miss Williams as one of its honorees on the 100th anniversary of the College.
Ozeline Pearson Wise was the first Black woman to be employed in the banking department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, graduating from high school in Cambridge, Mass. With the death of her father before she began college, she sought employment in the postal service. Despite a high score on the civil service examination, she was not hired and began to work at various clerical jobs. During World War II, she worked for the U.S. Navy in both ship fittings and personnel. She was then employed for 20 years by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1963, after the death of her husband, John Wise, she went to live in Cambridge with her sister, Satyra Bennett. Very active in St. Paul A.M.E. Church, which her father, the Rev. William B. Pearson, had pastored, she was trustee, Sunday School teacher, and chair of the building fund. Cofounder with her sister, and a charter member of the Citizens' Charitable Health Association, she also worked with Mrs. Bennett in other community organizations. Her contributions to her church were recognized in 1969 and again in 1978.
Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe, a self-described "teacher and preacher," is an educator, minister, community activist, writer, and world traveler, who has worked at many levels to provide opportunities for greater human development and understanding among people. Both parents, David Wadsworth and Gertrude Moody Cannon, held theological degrees, and her father was minister of the First Baptist Church in Cranford, N.J. After graduating from New Jersey State Teachers' College in 1937 with a degree in education, she worked summers in educational and recreational programs for migrant laborers in Maryland. She earned her master's degree in rural education from Columbia Teachers' College in 1938. At Tuskegee Institute from 1938 to 1940, she was principal and teacher-trainer in the laboratory schools at the Institute, head of the Department of Elementary Education, and director of the graduate studies program. In 1940 she was married to Henry Roy Partridge, who was then teaching at Tuskegee. While he was in the service during World War II, she continued her graduate studies program, earning her doctorate from Columbia University in 1945. When the marriage ended, she and her son returned to Cranford. She has served as professor of education at Queens College of the City University of New York for more than 30 years and as visiting professor for many colleges throughout the country. She was married to Estemore Wolfe in 1959. From 1962 to 1965, Dr. Wolfe served as education chief for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor; in this position she was instrumental in the development, passage, and implementation of some of the most innovative educational legislation ever written. Post-graduate study at Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary of America led to ordination to the Baptist ministry in 1970; since 1975, she has served as associate pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cranford. She has an extensive list of professional and community affiliations, including the National Alliance of Black School Educators, of which she was president; the Advanced Education Committee for the Graduate Record Examination; and the AAAS Commission on Science Education. She now chairs the non-governmental representatives to the United Nations, and is active in several sororities. The recipient of numerous awards, she was cited as one of New York's Outstanding Ten Women in 1958 and in 1959 was honored by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
Arline Yarbrough has worked in civil service as a secretary and at one time ran her own business. She was born into a large pioneer family in Swink, Col., and soon afterwards moved to Salt Lake City. With permission of her parents, Mary Alice Sexton and Samuel Steward, she stayed with an older sister, Blanche Steward Hamilton, while attending high school in Seattle; there she encountered other Black students for the first time. The severity of the depression allowed her to attend Washington State College in Pullman for less than a year; and after settling in Seattle, she married Letcher Yarbrough and took domestic and childcare employment. In 1933, their only child, a son, was born. At the onset of World War II, Mrs. Yarbrough accepted a clerical position in the federal civil service with Alaska Travel Control. At the end of the war, she established and ran Yarbrough's Letter Shop for eight years, offering stenographic, mimeographic, and advertising services. She worked as a secretary for the State Department of Health, Highline School District, and University of Washington, retiring in 1972 after 20 years of service as a state employee. Her involvement with business organizations includes the Public Stenographers' Association and the Business and Professional Women's Club, which she served as president, being the only Black member in both of these groups. As sales representative for a local memorial park, she worked to end segregation in Seattle cemeteries. Other activities include 30 years' participation in NACWC, being its state president since 1974, the Cosmopolitan Century Club, and Ioa Phi Lambda. In 1972, she founded ROOTS (Relatives of Old-Timers), an annual reunion of old friends who lived in the Seattle area prior to World War II; its membership now extends throughout North America. She has an avid interest in her state's history and the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest and is the recipient of several awards for community service.