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Brian Tong and Theodore Lin

retiring room attendant, activist, most renowned for winning the 1873 Supreme Court Case Railroad Company v. Brown, was born Katherine Brown in Virginia. There are many variations of her name; in some documents, she is referred to as “Catherine Brown,” “Katherine Brown,” “Kate Brown,” or “Kate Dodson.” In the New York Times article “Washington, Affairs at the National Capital,” her name appears as “Kate Dostie.” Very few records of Brown's life survive today; as a result, much of her childhood and personal life remains unknown.

Kate Brown's recorded personal life begins with her marriage to Jacob Dodson. Jacob Dodson had a colorful past. Born in 1825, Dodson was a freeman. He spent most of his early life as a servant for the Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, but in 1843 Dodson began to accompany John C. Fremont, son-in-law of Senator Benton ...

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Steven J. Niven

early legal petitioner for freedom, was born near present-day Newport News, Virginia, to an unknown slave woman and Thomas Key, a white Englishman. Key served as a burgess in Virginia's colonial assembly. That Elizabeth's mother is described in colonial records simply as a “slave” is significant for two reasons. First, it means that she was probably not a Christian, since African-born or descended slaves and servants who followed that faith were usually characterized as such in the legal record. Second, it suggests that at least some Africans were being classified as lifetime chattel in Virginia as early as the 1620s, when there were only a few hundred blacks in the colony.

Like that of her mother and of others of African descent in seventeenth century Virginia the precise legal status of Elizabeth Key was not clearly defined Was she free like her father Or a slave like her mother ...

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Naseeb Mirza and Laurne Williams

indentured servant and legendary Texas patriot, the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” was born in New Haven, Connecticut, as a free black woman. Little is known about her childhood or her family. West's first appearance in the public record is in 1835 when she traveled to the “wilderness of Texas” (Harris, p. 530). She signed a contract with agent James Morgan on 25 October 1835 to work as a housekeeper for a year at the New Washington Association's hotel in Morgan Point, Texas, serving as an indentured servant. In return for her housekeeping services, Morgan agreed to pay West $100 a year, and to provide her and thirteen other employees transportation from New York to Galveston Bay, Texas. West also traveled with Emily de Zavala, wife of the interim vice president of the Republic of Texas.

On 16 April 1836 during the absence of James Morgan who had gone to ...