multi‐instrumental musician, teacher, and orchestra conductor, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Some sources give her birth year as 1885; however, according to U.S. census data, it was most likely 1882. Her mother, Betty Anderson, was born March 1849 in Virginia. Little is known about Hallie Anderson's father except that he was also a Virginia native. When Hallie was three, the family migrated to New York City. As a child, Hallie took public school and private music lessons. She received classical training at the New York German Conservatory of Music. Although it did not record her occupation, the 1900 census noted that Hallie's mother was a widow who could neither read nor write, and who had seven living children. Betty Anderson was then living with three of her children, all of whom could read and write: Charles (born Sept. 1872), a waiter; John ...
Mary Krane Derr
Sharon E. Wood
former slave, entrepreneur, steamboat worker, nurse, and church founder, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1801 or 1804. Although her father was a white man and also her master, his name is unknown. Her mother, Lydia, was his slave. While she was still a child, Baltimore's father sold her to a trader who carried her to the St. Louis area. Over the next few years, she passed among several masters, including the New Orleans judge Joachim Bermudez, working as a house servant for French, Spanish, and Anglo-American households in Louisiana and eastern Missouri.
In New Orleans Baltimore joined the Methodist Church Her piety so impressed one preacher that he purchased her then allowed her to hire her own time and buy her freedom Baltimore worked as a chambermaid on steamboats and as a lying in nurse According to tradition it took her seven years to earn the ...
Mary Anne Boelcskevy
singer and actor, was born Ada Scott in Kansas City, Kansas, the daughter of H. W. and Anna Morris Scott. (Some scholars list her as being born on 1 May 1889 in Junction City, Kansas.) Nothing is known about her education, except that she began piano lessons at an early age. She also started singing in the local church choir, developing the voice that the historian Bruce Kellner calls “full, rich, and mellow” (Kellner, 55). Indeed, musical ability ran in Brown's family: Her cousin was renowned ragtime pianist and composer James Sylvester Scott.
Brown's professional life began in 1910, when she became a performer at Bob Mott's Pekin Theater in Chicago. Barely out of her teens, Brown also performed in clubs in Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany. In the early 1920s Brown joined Bennie Moten s band which was considered the Midwest s preeminent band During ...
Dorothy A. Washington
museum cofounder, college equity officer, educator, and community volunteer, was born Fredi Mae Sears in Bradenton, Florida. She was the only daughter of three children born to Mary Miller, a laundress, and Oscar C. Sears Sr., a laborer at a trailer park operated by the local Kiwanis Club. She grew up in a deeply religious community that valued family, friends, and the church, and her father was a deacon and a founding member of St. Mary Baptist Church. Such lived experiences prepared Sears for a life of service.
In 1939 she graduated as valedictorian of her class at Lincoln High School in Bradenton. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Florida A&M College (later University) in Tallahassee, Florida, where in 1944 she earned a bachelor of science degree in Home Economics with minors in Science and English While at Florida A M Sears wrote for the student newspaper and her ...
Philip J. Havik
merchant and trader in Portuguese Guinea, present-day Guinea-Bissau, was born in the 1780s, in the town of Cacheu on the Guinea coast, into a family with strong connections to administration and commerce in the region. Her father, Manuel de Carvalho Alvarenga, was also Guinean-born; he was descended from Cape Verdeans who had settled there in the 1700s, acting as commanders of the ports of Cacheu, Farim, and Ziguinchor, who intermarried with African women. Her brother, Francisco de Carvalho Alvarenga, became an important trader and held posts in the Portuguese administration in the town of Ziguinchor in the Casamance region (part of Senegal since 1886 Her aunt Josefa de Carvalho Alvarenga was born in the Cape Verde islands and married wealthy officials and owned landed property and slaves in the archipelago Although Rosa de Carvalho Alvarenga s mother s name is unknown she was in all likelihood of Banhun origin ...
Lynette D. Myles
slave and later a wealthy black woman, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the daughter of Julia Frances Lewis Dickson, a slave, and David Dickson, a wealthy, white Georgian planter, businessman, and slave owner. Amanda America Dickson's birth resulted from the rape of thirteen-year-old Julia Dickson by David Dickson, the forty-year-old son of the slave owner Elizabeth Sholars Dickson. After she was weaned, Amanda was taken from her mother and placed in the home of her white owner and grandmother, Elizabeth Sholars Dickson. Julia, on the other hand, remained in living quarters outside the Dickson house. Until her white grandmother's death in 1864, Amanda lived with her in the same bedroom where she spent most of her time “studying her books and doing whatever she was told to do” (Leslie, Woman of Color 42 According to the Dickson family s African ...
businesswoman, was born in Warwick, Rhode Island, the last of seven daughters of Robin Eldridge, son of African slaves and a Revolutionary War veteran, and Hannah Prophet, a Native American and African American woman. Elleanor Eldridge was a skilled worker and businesswoman and at one point was the wealthiest African American in Providence, Rhode Island. Almost everything known about her is derived from a memoir produced by a collaboration between Eldridge and a white amanuensis, Frances Harriet Whipple. Whipple, who was related to one of Eldridge's former employers, Captain Benjamin Greene, wrote and published the Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge (1838) to raise funds for Eldridge after she had been defrauded by two white men. The text ran into several printings (between 1838 and 1845 and a second edition that brought Eldridge much needed funds after losing a lawsuit against the two men who ...
Rayford W. Logan
Born in Warwick, Rhode Island, Elleanor Eldridge believed that her paternal grandfather had been born in Zaire (the ancient name of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo) and had been brought to America on a slave ship. One of his sons, Robin Eldridge, was Elleanor Eldridge's father. Robin and his two brothers had fought in the American Revolution (1775–1783) and been promised 80 hectares (198 acres) of land apiece in the Mohawk River Valley in New York. Since they received pay in the almost worthless Continental currency (notes issued by the Continental Congress to finance the war), they had been unable to take possession of the land. It is not clear how Robin Eldridge was able to purchase a lot and a house in Warwick, where he settled with his wife, Hannah Prophet, whom he had married before entering military service.
Elleanor was ...
Vivian Njeri Fisher
She excelled in her crafts and business ventures, and as an amateur lawyer she assisted her brother, George, in securing an acquittal of charges that he “horsewhipped and otherwise barbarously treated a man on the highway.”
Elleanor Eldridge was born in Warwick, Rhode Island. Her father, Robin Eldridge, was an African who was captured with his entire family and brought to America on a slave ship. Her mother, Hannah Prophet, was a Native American. Eldridge was born free in part because of the “gradual emancipation” law passed in Rhode Island in 1784 Robin Eldridge and two of his brothers had fought in the American Revolution They were promised their freedom and two hundred acres of land apiece in return for their service When the war ended they were pronounced free but because they had been paid in worthless old Continental currency they were unable to take ...
Stacey Pamela Patton
Elleanor Eldridge was the last of seven daughters of Robin Eldridge, an African native, and Hannah Prophet, a Native American. The young Robin Eldridge was captured along with his entire family and brought to the United States to be sold as a slave. Later, in exchange for service in the American Revolution, he and his brothers were promised their freedom and two hundred acres of land. Though they were granted their freedom as promised, they were paid for their services in the worthless old continental currency and were therefore never able to claim any land. They did, however, eventually save enough money to purchase a small plot in Warwick, Rhode Island, where they built a house. Elleanor Eldridge was born free in Warwick.
When Eldridge was ten her mother died and against her father s wishes she went to work for her mother s employers Joseph and Elleanor Baker ...
Lisa E. Rivo
building foreman and caretaker, U.S. mail coach driver, Montana pioneer, also known as Black Mary or Stagecoach Mary, was born a slave in Hickman County, Tennessee. Information about Fields's parentage and early life remain unconfirmed, although James Franks, whose grandparents knew Fields in the late 1800s in Montana, writes that Fields was the daughter of Suzanna and Buck, slaves of the Dunne family, owners of a Hickman County plantation. The Dunnes sold Buck immediately following Mary's birth. According to Franks, the Dunnes allowed Suzanna to keep her daughter with her in quarters behind the kitchen, and Mary enjoyed a relatively privileged childhood, even becoming friends with the Dunne's daughter Dolly, who was about the same age as Mary. This arrangement, Franks writes, lasted until Suzanna's death forced fourteen-year-old Mary to take over her mother's household duties.
Whether or not Franks s account is accurate it is ...
Pamela C. Edwards
inventor and entrepreneur, blazed a path for black female inventors, yet little is known of her early life. Neither her parents' names nor her exact date or place of birth are known one biographer indicates that she was born in the 1850s and grew up in slavery. After the Civil War ended and former slaves in the South were emancipated, Goode, like thousands of African Americans, made her way north, taking up residence in Chicago by the early 1880s. In Chicago, she owned and operated a furniture store, and her entrepreneurial endeavors led to her become the first African American woman to receive a patent from the United States Patent Office. On 14 July 1885 Goode received her patent for a Folding Cabinet Bed comparable to modern sofa or hideaway beds The first of five black women to patent new inventions in the nineteenth century she was a ...
Bruce L. Mouser
trader, traditional medical practitioner, and political arbiter, was born on the coast of Guinea-Conakry. She is also known as Elizabeth, Beth, and Liza Heard. Her likely father was a British merchant attached to commercial firms maintaining factories at Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River or on the nearby Iles de Los. It was customary for African headmen to arrange a husband/wife relationship for resident foreign “strangers”—of which Heard’s father was likely one. Her mother’s name and relationship to local leaders are unknown. At a young age, Betsy was recognized as exceptionally intelligent, and she was sent to Liverpool, where she was boarded and educated, with the expectation that she would return to the Windward Coast as an agent for European commerce and Liverpool interests.
By the 1790s Heard had established a commercial footing at Bereira on the southern Guinea Conakry coast At that time Bereira was a border ...
Donovan S. Weight
slave owner, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a freed slave and a white man (their names are unknown). Hinard never experienced slavery herself, and her life as a slave-owning black female was far removed from the common experience of most blacks in North America. This anomaly can be explained in part by the political and social turbulence of early New Orleans. By the time Hinard was forty-two, she had lived under French, Spanish, and American rule. In 1791 at the age of fourteen, Hinard was placéed (committed) to the white Spaniard Don Nicolás Vidal, the auditor de guerra the Spanish colonial governor In this lofty position Vidal provided military and legal counsel for both Louisiana and West Florida Both the Spanish and the French legislated against racial intermarriage as a way of maintaining pure white blood but this legislation did not stop white men from ...
Bethany Waywell Jay
slave, plantation mistress, and refugee, was born Anta Majigeen Ndiaye in Senegal during years of intense warfare and slave raids. While there is no conclusive evidence of Jai's lineage, legends in both Florida and Senegal suggest that she was a princess in Africa who was captured and sold into slavery after her father led an unsuccessful bid for power in the Wolof states of Senegal. While little is known of Jai's life before her arrival in Spanish Florida, historian Daniel Schafer suggests that she was one of the 120 Africans who survived the nightmarish Middle Passage from Africa to Cuba on board the Sally. In 1806 Jai was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley a slave trader and planter from Florida From Cuba Jai sailed with Kingsley to his Laurel Grove plantation near what would later become Jacksonville Florida As the nineteenth century progressed Jai s life ...
Nicole S. Ribianszky
free woman of color, property owner, and slaveholder in Natchez, Mississippi, was born enslaved. Her mother, Harriet Battles, was an enslaved mixed-race woman. It is not clear who Ann's father was, although presumably it was a white man due to Ann's racial classification as “mulatto.” It is not readily evident, however, that it was Gabriel Tichenor, the white man who claimed ownership of mother and daughter. In 1822 Tichenor crossed the Mississippi River to Concordia Parish Louisiana and manumitted Harriet when she was thirty years old Because of the laws of Louisiana the children of freed people could not themselves be freed until they too reached age thirty Four years after Harriet s manumission Tichenor navigated around that issue by transporting Harriet and the eleven year old Ann to Cincinnati Ohio where he had their free papers duly recorded The mother and daughter then returned ...
, notable Gambian slave trader, was a free black woman and a relatively wealthy merchant who visited the American South in the second half of the eighteenth century, largely but not exclusively to trade in slaves and other things. She was partner to an English merchant with the last name of Lawrence. Fenda Lawrence traveled to the British North American colonies (now the United States) with respect and status as a person of color. At the time she was described in some European sources as a considerable trader in the River Gambia on the Coast of Africa.
Fenda Lawrence most likely met Englishman Lawrence (first name unknown) when he came to the Gambia River to trade. Her status was similar to that of other female merchants in precolonial Gambia (then Senegambia) of the time who had European partners. Like many of these signares as they were called she had ...
Mary Krane Derr
physician and pharmacist, was born in Syracuse, New York, the fifth of eight children of Caroline (Storum) and Jermain Wesley Loguen, an African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church bishop. Close friends of Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Loguen Fraser's parents were themselves ardent abolitionists and women's rights supporters. Her mother's heritage was free black, Native American, and French Canadian. As her father recounted in his autobiography, The Reverend J.W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman (1859), he was conceived after his mother was raped by their white slaveholder in Davidson County, Tennessee. Jermain Loguen escaped North learned to read entered the ministry and vowed to spend his life liberating others from slavery The Loguens Syracuse house at East Genesee and Pine Streets was a critical station on the Underground Railroad that sheltered perhaps as many as 1 500 fugitives in ...
Jeri Chase Ferris
slave, nurse, landowner, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Hancock County, Georgia, of unknown parents. Though her slave name was Bridget, she was almost always called Biddy, and not until she achieved her freedom in Los Angeles, California, in 1865 did she take the surname Mason. It is not definitively known why she chose “Mason,” although Amasa Mason Lyman was the company captain on Biddy Mason's journey from Mississippi to Salt Lake City, and later to San Bernardino. Biddy was an infant when she was given or sold to the John Smithson family of Mississippi, to whom she belonged until she was eighteen. Smithson then gave her, along with two other slaves, as a wedding present to his cousin Rebecca when she married Robert M. Smith Biddy Mason s new duties included nursing care of the frail Rebecca Smith and the making ...
Arthuree McLaughlin Wright
club organizer, community leader, and philanthropist, was born Mary Eleanora Delaney in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to Jacob C. and Eliza Ann Montgomery Delaney. Her parents may have been runaway slaves since Mary was born in an Underground Railroad station. Little else is known about the Delaney family or Mary's early life. Her early education was sporadic, but she learned to read and write in mission schools that met in homes in Indiana. After the Civil War she also attended the Freeman's School in St. Louis, Missouri, for a brief time. In 1869, at age twenty-three, Delaney married Henry Brownlow of St. Louis. The Brownlows' union, however, was short-lived. On 25 February 1873 Mary married Elijah McCoy in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she had moved in 1870. Elijah McCoy the famous inventor of the lubricator for steam engines was a widower Mary and Elijah were blessed ...