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Linda M. Carter

domestic and restaurateur, was born on the Farrin plantation near Clayton, Alabama. She was the daughter of the Farrins' female cook and the male owner of a plantation located approximately two miles away from the Farrin plantation. Burton's mistress was persistent in her attempts to get Burton's father, who was from Liverpool, England, to acknowledge his daughter, but he ignored Burton whenever she was in his presence. During the Civil War, Burton's mother left the Farrin plantation and her children after an argument with her mistress led to her being whipped. Several years later, Burton and her siblings were reunited with their mother when she returned to the plantation after the war had ended and took her children to their new home. The Farrins demanded that Burton's mother return her children to them until she threatened to go to the Yankee headquarters. In 1866 the family moved to ...


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 ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

The daughter of former slaves, Julia Foote attended a segregated white Methodist church with her family during her childhood in Schenectady, New York. When she was a teenager her family moved to Albany, New York, and joined the local African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Foote had a conversion experience in that church in 1838.

The next year she married George Foote and moved with him to Boston. Before her conversion, Foote had agreed with the conventional opinion that women should not preach. But after her arrival in Boston, she felt the call to preach and pray in public. Despite the disapproval of her parents, husband, and minister, and the threat of excommunication from her church, Foote began a career as an evangelist. During the next four decades, Foote traveled and preached throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and as far away as Detroit, Michigan San Francisco ...


Leyla Keough

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, to Agnes, a slave of the Burgwell family, and George Pleasant, who was owned by a man named Hobbs. When Elizabeth was in her teens, the Burgwells sold her to a slaveowner in North Carolina by whom she was raped and had one child, George. Shortly thereafter, a Burgwell daughter, Anne Burgwell Garland, bought Elizabeth and her son. They were taken to St. Louis, where Elizabeth married James Keckley. She later found he had deceived her by claiming to be a free man, and the couple separated.

To support her owner's household, Keckley worked as a seamstress. She acquired many loyal customers, one of whom loaned Keckley $1,200 to buy her freedom in 1855. In 1860, Keckley relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, and then to Washington D C where she opened a successful ...


Barbara McCaskill

former slave, abolitionist, and memoirist, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to an enslaved, biracial seamstress and cook, Elizabeth Ramsey. Her mother's white master, John Randolph, was Louisa's father. From infancy through age thirteen, Picquet, along with her mother and her younger brother John, were owned by a former cotton planter from Monticello, Georgia, named Cook. To pay for losses at the gaming tables, Cook fled to Mobile, Alabama, where he “hired out” or leased Picquet, a child herself, to “nurse” or look after the children of slaveholders. When Picquet was almost fourteen, in order to settle Cook's remaining debts, a sheriff from Georgia sold her to a Mr. Williams, a middle-aged New Orleans “gentleman” (Picquet, 16). Her other family members were auctioned to A. C. Horton of Warton Texas Picquet was forced to become Williams s mistress and she bore him four ...


Martha L. Wharton

abolitionist, writer, lecturer, women's rights activist, and social critic, was born Nancy Gardner in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the daughter of an African American and Indian mother and an African American father, Thomas Gardner, who was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and died within three months of Nancy's birth. What is known about her is drawn primarily from her 1850 memoir, A Narrative of the Life and Travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince. While Prince does not name her mother in her narrative, she provides descriptions of both parents that highlight their African descent, and she recounts her grandfather's violent removal to America, along with his memories of a proud life in Africa. She briefly notes the capture of her Indian grandmother by local English colonials. Her narrative speaks clearly to issues of race, gender, slavery, and morality in the United States and the Caribbean.

Prince s childhood ...


Kelli Cardenas Walsh

military officer and historian, was born Martha Settle, the fifth of eight children born to Ida Baily, a homemaker and Oliver Settle, a laborer, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Martha Settle attended Norristown public school in an integrated school system, where she excelled in Latin. Graduating from high school in 1935, she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on a scholarship. There she majored in history and education earning a bachelors degree in 1939 and a masters degree in history the following year.

After graduation Putney went to work for the U.S. Civil Service Commission and then the War Manpower Commission, before joining the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 1 February 1943 Her decision to join the WAAC was met with family approval Like many of the early African American WAAC recruits she took her basic training at Fort Des Moines in Iowa While at basic training ...


Karla Sclater

Christian missionary and temperance advocate, was born Emma Smith, enslaved in Springfield, Missouri. She lived with her mother, Jennie Boyd, and both her sister and her father, John Smith, lived on a neighboring plantation. There were also four older siblings living on yet another plantation near Springfield. One month after her birth in 1859, Emma was put up for auction alongside her mother and sister. Her father threatened his owners that if they did not purchase his wife and daughters he would run away. The strategy proved successful and Smith was able to have his wife and two daughters live with him.

Emma Smith was only two years old when the Civil War erupted. In 1864 as the Union army secured remaining portions of Missouri from rebel control the white slaveholding Smith brothers John Smith kept the name of his owners fled south to Arkansas ...


Charles Rosenberg

school teacher and domestic worker, is best known for a poignant and detailed autobiography that provides a window into daily life for the Americans who were stigmatized legally and socially, during the middle of the twentieth century, by their dark complexion.

Sarah Lucille Webb was born in Clio, Alabama, to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Janet Lewis Webb, a schoolteacher, and Willis James Webb, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. In her early years she moved with her parents to Troy, Andalusia, Birmingham, Batesville, and Eufala, Alabama. As an itinerant minister ordained by a Methodist church, Reverend Webb was subject to reassignment to a new church at any annual conference, and every one to two years he had to move. The family supplemented his minister's salary by sharecropping cotton and corn and grew field peas, greens, and vegetables for their own use or for sale.

The family ...


Born a Georgia slave, Susie Baker King Taylor was quite young when an arrangement was made sending her to live with her grandmother in Savannah. She learned to read and write from two white children, even though doing so was illegal prior to the American Civil War. When war broke out Taylor moved with her uncle's family to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The Union Army, fighting for these islands, pressed her into service as a teacher of freed slave children and adults. Soon after, the men in her family joined the Union's First South Carolina Infantry, and she traveled with them as a nurse and laundress. In 1862 she married one of the regiment's sergeants, Edward King. In her memoir, A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs she recounted the events of her life in camp with the regiment She is the only black woman known ...