Women of distinction

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L. A. SCRUGGS, A. M., Nl. D.,

Former Resident Physician at Leonard Medical Hospital, former Professor of PhysiologN' and Resident Physician at Shaw University, present Visiting Physician and Lecturer on Ph3-siolog-y and Hygiene at St. Augu.stine Normal and Collegiate Institute. Introduction by Mrs. Josephine Turpin Washington.


T. Thomas Fortuxe, William Still, J. Hr(io Johnston, E. E. Smitfi, IMiss Ida B. Wells, Miss Mary Y. Cook, Mrs. Rosetta E. La:vson, Miss L. C. Fleming, Mrs. Sarah J. AV. Early, Mrs. J. Silone-Yates, Miss Lena Jackson. Mrs. E. C. Pegues, G. W. Hayes, W. B. Holland.

"God that made the world, and all things therein, * * * * hath made of one blood all nations of men for to diuell on all the face of the earth.Acts xvii; (part of) 24-26.


Coptrighted July 23, 1S92, by L. A. Scruggs.


L. A. ScRUGCis, Pcblisher, 21 East Worth Street.



To Tin: Akuo-Amkuran Motiikks and I)Ar(iirri:us who, in tiiosi-: DARK DAYS OF Ol'R HiSTORY, KN'DEAVORKI) TO T.E 1 AITIIFl I, TO WHAT TIIKY INDHRSTOOI) TO HE TIIK PRINCIPLES OF TrITH AND X'irtie; and also to the Xorle Women of THE Race ^vHo, ix these nRKJiiTEU days, HAVE ASSlDForSLY LAHORED, AS BEST THEY COFLD, TO ESTABLISH AN UN- IMPEACHABLE Character in THE Womanhood of THE Race ;

And TO THE Philanthropic Men and Women of the Cointry, VHO HAVE DONE AND ARE DOINO MUCH TO ElEVATE THIS l*EOPLE BY PROVII)IN(t FOR THEM A CHRISTIAN EDUCA- tion, and have not in consec^uence thereof demanded any sacrifice of their Manhood and Womanhood;

To Charles J. Pickford, the Author's Early Friend ani> Benefactor ; And to the Sacred Memory of a Lovino and Sainted W-ife, Lucie J. ScRucuis, a most valuable helper, who ren- dered MUCH ASSISTANCE, EVEN IN THE ['reparation of these paces; This Volume is Sincerely Dedicated





In launching this little barque, bearing the outlines of a book, the builder (author) is not altogether thought- less of the stormy sea over which it may be driven, nor of that far-away destiny (success) which it may never reach. And yet with hope as an anchor both "sure and steadfast" it has been launched, and out upon life's sea must go.

Who could expect otherwise than as it sails off from the shore that the severe scrutiny of the wise and learned, as well as the keen and rigid criticism of friend and foe, of the interested and the disinterested, the preju- diced and the non-prejudiced, will fall upon it with such activity as may be simply alarming.

But, after all, if by chance it is allowed to humbly pursue the journey of its mission, educating public sentiment, stimulating and encouraging the young women and young men of the race who are almost overcome and discouraged by the dashing billows of life's angry sea; if by reading the lives of these noble heroines; if by meditating upon their sacrifices and deeds; if by contrasting the opportunities of those former and darker days with those presented ii these hrioliter (hiys; if from the contents of this vohmie the young women of our raee sliall gather a single ray of lio})e and encourage- ment wliieh will enable them to stem the tide and become women of usefnlnesf^ and (Iisti)(cffon, honored of men and blessed of God, then this barque (hook) shall have accom])lished one of the objects of its mission.

Again, there have been a great many untrue things said by a })art of the Southern press that have been against the' best interests of the race. The Northern traveler through the South has also quite often gathered informa- tion at railway stations and from other unreliable sources, which has been given to the world through a part of the Northern press, greatly to the detriment of the race. From these sources the womanliood of the race has suffered great and unmerited injustice when taken as a whole. If by reading the content,; of this volume a contradiction can be justly established and thereby we can reclaim some of the prestige we have been thus caused to lose, then another important object of this mission shall have been accomplislied. It is quite evi- dent that the world has not as yet learned to fully appreciate the extent to which minrl and cliaracfc)' have been and can l)e developed in the women of this race.

"Great statesmen govern nations,
Kings mould a people's fate;
But the unseen hand of velvet
These giants regulate.
The ponderous wheel of fortune
In woman's charms is pearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world."

If in such a short time of greatly abridged citizenship our women have accomplished so much, and if many of those heroines mentioned did develop such giant intellects during those dark days of our history, may we not be the more encouraged to make more diligent, protracted and determined efforts in this brighter age?

These glorious days that we now enjoy are made the more sacred when we remember the sacrifices, the tears, the labors, the prayers and the blood of thousands of our mothers and sisters, most of whom have gone into another world, but some of whose triumphs are herein mentioned. To acquaint the world with many of these facts, and to assist in more fully establishing that fundamental principle that under similar conditions the color of the skin nor the quality of the hair can have no bearings whatsoever upon the operations of the human mind, for we believe that in the mental world there is neither Greek nor Jew nor Gentile, neither bound nor free, neither African nor Caucasian, for God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."

It has also been to the author, who has spent man years in careful observation among the masses, a pain- ful experience to see how little is known of our great women and their works. To assist in giving this infor- mation to our young people, that they may be the more proud of their ancestors and love more devotedly their race, is another part of our mission. And now, in addi- tion to the debt of gratitude he owes those who have so kindly and ably contributed articles to this book, the author is also grateful to Rev. A. (1. Davis, Mr. E. A. Johnson, Mr. George W. Williams, Mr. William Still, Mr. I. (1. Penn, Mr. E. E. Cooper, Mrs. Christine S. Smith, Mrs. F. W. Titus, Mr. James M. Trotter, Mrs. N. F. Mossell, Mr. W. H. Council and others for valuable assistance rendered by themselves and their writings. While the preparation of this book has been a very arduous task, and might be regarded a presumption, it has nevertheless been a very pleasant duty. We have desired to be just, and as far as possible we have tried to avoid exaggerations. After all, however, we are aware that the book is by no means a perfect one. There are some whose lives should be mentioned herein that are not.

Much of this seeming negligence is due to a failure of some of the parties to respond, while some others we have not been able to reach after repeated trials. When it is remembered how difficult it is to gather reliable data from all parts of this great country, as well as from Africa, we trust that there shall be no reasonable cause of offense, and that no one will have so little charity as to charge that we have been partial or narrow.

If this volume should be accepted to such an extent as to warrant it safe to issue a second edition, and should the author's life and health be preserved, he will gladly record the deeds and achievements of those noble women whose names do not appear herein. We have done the best we could under the circumstances, and therefore send this volume forth with a prayer that God may bless and use the humble effort to the good of mankind.



The position accorded tho women of a nation is a gauge of that nation's civilization. In one age or clime man's slave and beast of burden, in another his pet and plaything, the hidden adornment of a harem or the inspiration of a chivalry more or less Quixotic, it remained for our own time and country to approach most nearly a recognition of her true place and station.

"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

There need be no trite discussion of the relative superiority or inferiority of the sexes. The claim of equality need not be mistaken for an assertion of perfect likeness.

"Woman is not undeveloped man,
But diverse."

The true woman takes her place by the side of man as his companion, his co-worker, his helpmeet, his equal, but she never forgets that she is a woman and not a man. Whether in the home as wife and mother, or struggling in the ranks of business or professional life, she retains her womanly dignity and sweetness, which is at once her strength and her shield.

The nineteenth century, "woman's century," as Victor Hugo aptly terms it, marks the acme of her development, but there has been no time when her power was not felt. From the earliest period, when Eve was beguiled of the serpent and in turn tempted Adam, down through the ages when Sappho sang and Hypatia showed what genius repressed could yet accomplish, woman's influence has been potent. That influence, however, is greatly enhanced, both in the quiet walks of life, where fate and preference retain the majority, and in the more public ways, where duty calls an increasing number, by the recognition of woman's equality with man. This belief has steadily made its growth among nations in proportion as they advanced from savagery and the butchery and brutality by which it is attended. As war waned and the arts of peace prevailed, as the necessity for mere bodily strength decreased, and more attention was paid to the cultivation of mind, woman's claim for recognition grew in popular favor and esteem.

Even in this age, however, there are some who refuse to see any good in what is sometimes termed the emancipation of woman. Because many noble and lovable women have been content to abide beneath the shadow of the home-roof, and have never sought to extend their influence beyond the domestic circle, they deny the fitness of any woman's doing so, regardless of the difference in the nature and circumstances of different individuals, and even of the fact that many women have no roof-tree under which to abide. The "progressive woman" is caricatured and held up as a horror and a warning to that portion of the feminine world who might be tempted into like forbidden paths. "She is out of her sphere, she ought to be in her home, she is trying to be a man, she is losing the tender consideration and the reverence once accorded womanhood." All these things are said, and, as might be expected, are applicable to individual cases. They do not, however, portray the true type of the "progressive woman" of to-day. She is modest and womanly, with a reverence for the high and holy duties of wife and mother. She does not advocate the abandonment of any real duties near at hand for fancied ones afar off. She would not have women neglect home and husband and children to enter professional life, or to further any public cause, however worthy. She only claims the right to admission in the varied fields of employment and usefulness of those who either have no domestic ties, or, having them, are forced, despite this fact, to enter the arena of life in the struggle for bread, or those who, without a disregard of existing claims, yet have leisure and inclination for interests outside of the home.

The woman is a human being as well as a woman. It is within the range of possibility that sometimes she may be endowed with great gifts which it is fortunate for all minds if she can find opportunity to exercise. What would we not have missed had Patti never sung, Rose Bonheur never painted, or Mrs. Stowe never written? Besides, contact with the outer world, a little rubbing against other minds, an occasional directing of the energies into new channels, refreshes and invigorates the tired wife and mother and enables her to give of her best to the dear ones at home. The varions gatherings of women thronghout the land, in clubs and societies and combinations for the progress of the temperance movement and other reforms, are to be applauded, even if they accomplish no other good than this drawing away, for a time at least, of wives and mothers from the tread-mill of a routine house-life.

The fruits of woman's work are not, however, to be so limited. Organized she has advanced countless humanitarian causes, while individually she has risen to eminence in the varied fields of her choice. Will any one sneer at the life-work of Hannah More, Harriet Martineau, Caroline Herschel? Can any be found, even among those who oppose the public life of women, to do otherwise than commend the character and achievements of such women as Florence Nightingale, Frances Willard, Clara Barton and Mary Livermore?

This widening of woman's sphere of thought and action is a thing to be encouraged rather than denounced, even by those wdio reverence most highly the home-life and believe that woman finds there her truest element and highest usefulness. In the "good old days" marriage was deemed a necessity to woman, the end of her being, while only an incident, albeit an important one, in the career of man. Women shrank from the title of "old maid," and to avoid that and an aimless, purpose less existence, or to secure a home and the means of support, were tempted often into loveless, unsuitable marriages. Is it so, to the same extent, in our day? The term "old maid," even when used, is not uttered with the contempt of former times. Think of the many nobk' single women of your acquaintance who are bravely fighting the battle of life alone, winning for themselves a competency and fair renown, and at the same time doing good service for humanity. The prince has not come to them. Some have grown old in life's struggle and will go through the remainder of their years without the halo of love, without tender home ties of their own; but they will have fought a good fight, and in many cases they have given of their strength and courage to some weak wife or mother, bowed down with the burdens and responsibilities of a position too often lightly and thoughtlessly assumed. Some of these brave and earnest working women are young and blooming. For them the prince may come, he ma}' not. They are content to wait, not idly, not with folded hands and the feeling that if he come not all hope is lost and life not worth the living, but working sturdily and blithely, developing the energies of mind and body, proving themselves worthy of their womanhood and fit mates for strong and manly men. So the car of progress moves onward, rapidly in favored localities, more slowly in sections less tolerant of innovations; but always towards that perfect solution of the "woman question" so happily pictured in Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward."

What of Afro-American womanhood? What of our wives and mothers and sisters and daughters? Are they, too, included in these movements of progress, in this marvellous advance of womankind? Much have they wrought, vet much remains for future work. It is not just to rate them according to the status they occupy in comparison with Anglo-American womanhood. Not alone should be considered the height to which they have ascended, but also the depth from which they have arisen. Alas, that it must be written! Afro-American women, like Afro-American men, in this "land of the free and home of the brave," are shut out from much which is helpful to a higher development; they are pursued by a monster prejudice whose voracious appetite is appeased only when they have been reduced to abject servitude and are content to remain "hewers of wood and drawers of water." All the disabilities which affect the race in this country our women have to contend against, with the added disability of sex. These disabilities, while artificial and transitory in character, must affect our expectation and our estimate of the work hitherto accomplished. That work, while marvellous in view of the obstacles which have beset the path of Afro-American womanhood, is to be considered rather as a promise than as a fulfillment. If it sometimes fails to be impressive, like the child in whom we watch the dawning of the man, it never fails to be interesting. The sky is

"Bright with flashes which forerun
The glories of a yet unrisen sun."

What has been accomplished by our women has been despite many obstacles and discouragements. The Afro-American is no anomaly in that at one stage of his development he failed to recognize the importance of cultivating his women. All peoples, in their progress toward civilization and while yet afar off, have been in the dark on this point. Even the benefactors of the race, the philanthropists who so generously aided the cause of education among us, by their own example fostered this idea of the comparative unimportance of educating the women of the race. The mistake was in not measuring the negro by the same standard applied to other peoples. Our only educational need was thought to be that of educated ministers, and even they were educated often in theology at the expense of spelling and grammar.

For a long time the idea held sway among us that it did not "pay" to spend much time and money in schooling the girls. "They made no use of their education," was affirmed, unless, indeed, they taught for a year or two, after which they resigned to marry. So the woman who might have become the mother* of a Bacon or a Newton, or who might have blossomed into a George Eliot or a Mrs. Browning, was left with dormant intellect and unexpanded energies to grope her way in darkness, unwitting even of all she had missed.

Our poverty, too, has been, and even is, a strong force to repress ambition and to thwart the desire for a broad and liberal culture. Woman's role has ever been that of self-sacrifice. It has seemed to her right and natural that all the available funds of the family should be lavished on the son in college, even though some of it was spent in useless little extravagances, while the sisters at home received but scant culture from the village pedagogue, or none at all, spending their time, instead, bending over the wash-tub or the sewing-machine, striving by their industry to add to the comforts or to the advantages of the idolized brother in school. Gray-haired mothers, from whose youth every ray of learning was rigorously excluded, have suffered untold toil and privation in the effort to give to their children the blessings of an education. All honor to them, and to the patient, self-sacrificing wives who have struggled under the burden of the family maintenance, while the husband pursued the course in school from which he was debarred in earlier life, and which was essential to his usefulness and success in his chosen calling.

Everywhere the Afro-American woman is educated and is unopposed by any prejudice against the exercise of her talents, by reason of lack of leisure and freedom from household cares, in most cases she is hindered in mental effort and in the production of any work which might take definite shape before the world.

In view of all these facts it is surprising that we have as many women among us who have, to so considerable an extent, worked out their own salvation and that of the race. Let us not use extravagant words of commendation, lest we have left no fit terms of praise for the woman of our future who is so hopefully prophesied by the achievements of her progenitors, toiling to-day amid varied disavantages; but let us chronicle their deeds in fitting phrase that those who come after may 1)0 inspired by the record of what has been wrought to make the most of their more liberal opportunities, and so hasten the time when our work may be criticised as that of human beings, and neither as that of colored women nor as that of women.

The day is coming when we shall not

"Be satisfied with praise
Which men give women when they judge a book—
Not as mere work, but as mere woman's work,
Expressing the comparative respect
which means the absolute scorn."

Even now we have some among us for whom it is not meet to intimate an apology, women whose work speaks for itself and has neither sex nor complexion.

It is necessary only to mention Edmonia Lewis, in whose veins courses the blood of the despised race, and whose genius and triumphant career are universally conceded, to instance the possibilities of Afro-American womanhood. Many others there are, also, whose successes in educational, professional, industrial and literary pursuits have been chronicled by our author, and still others, no doubt, whose achievements, though equally praiseworthy, have been unintentionally omitted. It is most fitting that one whose early struggles for education and a higher development were nobly supplemented by the self-sacrificing efforts of a loving mother should himself become the champion of that mother's sex, and especially of the numbers just entering the light studiously shut out from her longing eyes.

Such a son of such a mother is Lawson Andrew Scruggs, born in Bedford county, Virginia, January 15, XVIII INTRODUCTION. 1857, of slave parentage. Like many another of our able and successful men his early educational advantages were extremely limited. When he reached the age of twenty years he could do scarcely more than read and write. Even this scant knowledge was gained under great difficulties. His days were usually spent in ardu- ous labor on the farm. At night, when not too worn-out from physical toil, he would pore over his books by a torch-light fire. When the weather did not admit of work on the farm he was allowed the privilege of attend- ing the common school, if the one in his neighborhood chanced to be in session. Probably the Avhole time spent in school in this manner did not aggregate eight months in as many years. After leaving the farm he was employed as a laborer on the telegraph lines in the South. He still tried to pursue his studies, though now without any assistance whatever, even learning a little of English grammar by carrying a page or two in his pocket and committing it at odd moments. It was while on a telegraph inspecting tour that, in company with some fellovMvorkmen, he vis- ited the Richmond Institute, at Richmond, Virginia, one of the Baptist ELome Mission Society schools. He was at once impressed with the desirability of "going to college," mostly on account of the name and prestige it would give him among his youthful companions in the old home neighborhood. Inflated with a " little learning, " he had no true conception either of what he knew or of what he lacked of knowing. Despite his scanty schooling he was already acknowdedged the brightest INTRODUCTION. XIX lad ill the country round about, and by common consent was accorded the honor of letter-writer for all his love- lorn mates. In October, 1877, he entered the Richmond Institute with the intention of staying one session. He stayed five, though unable to complete any session but the last. It was in this institution that the writer became acquainted with him, and then began that friendship which, unlike many school intimacies, has stood the test of time. Young Scruggs was quite a favorite with both profess- ors and fellow-pupils. He was live, earnest and genial, a hard-working and conscientious student, and a merry comrade on the play-ground. In May, 1882., he was graduated, taking the school prize in oratory and deliv- ering the salutatory of his class. His views of what he knew had changed somewhat since the days when he wrote love-letters for the youth- ful swains of Bedford county. In the fall of 1882 he entered Shaw University, at Raleigh, North Carolina. Here he pursued, at the same time, the literary and the medical courses, being graduated in 1886 and 1887 respectively from the literary and medical departments. In each case he was the valedictorian of his class, and he was, in addition, the recipient of the prize in surgery from the medical department, having previously taken a prize in anatomy. He was at once appointed resident physician and instructor in hygiene and physiology at Shaw University and resident physician at Leonard Hospital. After having served acceptably in these capaci- ties for four years he resigned to give himself more completely to private practice, which, during this interim, XX INTRODUCTION. had engaged his hours of leisure. He has since accepted the position of A'^isiting Physician and Lecturer on Physi- ology and Hygiene at St. Augustine Normal and Colle- giate Institute, which position he now holds. It is a noteworthy fact that Dr. Scruggs was the first colored man to hold these appointments in either Shaw University or St. Augustine Institute. He has also the distinction of having organized the Medical Association among the Afro-American ph3^sicians of North Carolina. As an earnest and effective race worker he has won a high reputation. For five years he has been the regular North Carolina correspondent of the National Baptist, of Philadelphia, a paper having probably the largest circu- lation of any Baptist organ in the country His letters deal mainly with race interests, and he never fails to pre- sent the negro's case in equity. One communication of especial importance is a reply to Mr. Thomas Nelson Page, who had published in the North Americaii Review an arraignment of the colored people of the country for what he considered a lack of progress during the years of their freedom. Dr. Scruggs is a hard-working physician, but he finds time, amid the arduous duties of a most exacting profession, to keep in touch with the living issues of the day, and especially with those which concern us as AfroAmericans. Honor to all such young men among us ! May their tribe increase ! " Afro-American womanhood may be congratulated upon the entrance into the lists on her behalf of so worthy and zealous a knight as Lawson Andrew Scruggs.

Josephine Turpin Washington.


Adams, Mrs. Lucinda Bragg 270
Audersou, Caroline V., A. M., M. D. 177
Afro-American Women as Educators 309
Atlanta University 320
Brown, Miss Hallie Quinn 14
Barboza, Mrs. H. M. Garnet 61
Brown, Miss Nellie E. 82
Bergen, Madam Flora Batson 26
Bund}', Madam Lillian R. 108
Burwell, Miss Mary A. 222
Brown, Mrs. L. Hughes 265
Bowser, Mrs. Rosa D. 283
Britton, Miss Mary E. 303
Briggs, Miss Martha B. 345
Coppin, Mrs. Fannie M. Jackson 75
Cook, Mary v., A. B., A. M. 120
Coston, Mrs. Julia Ringwood 140
Cole, Mrs. Lucy Ann Henry 187
Cooper, Mrs. A. J. 207
Coleman, Mrs. Lucretia Newman 210
Colley, Mrs. Georgie 228
VCartwright, Mrs. Carrie E. Sawyer 259
Cooper, Mrs. Ada A. 289
Davis, Miss Henrietta Vinton 85
DeBaptiste, Miss Georgia Mabel 354
DeMortie, Louisa 94
Early, Mrs. Sarah J. W. 71
Fleming, Miss Lulu C. 197
Fisk Jubilee Singers 130
Fisk University 135
Grimkee, Mrs. Charlotte Forten 193
Gordon, Miss N. Antonia 217
Gray, Ida, D. D. S. 225
Gilbert, Artishia Garcia, A. B., A. M. 274
Green. Miss Hattie K. 308
Greenfield, Miss Elizabeth Taylor 78
Harper, Mrs. Frances Ellen Watkins 6
Harriet, the Modern Moses 65
Hyers Sisters 105
Howard, Joan Imogen, A. M. 156
Hand, Miss Ada C. 171
Harden, Mrs. Delia Irving 241
Howard, Miss Clara A. 256
Hartshorn Memorial College 262
Harper, Mary E., B. E. 322
Higher Education for Women 365
Home-life of Liberian Women 110
Influence of Negro Women in the Home 372
Johnson, Mrs. A. E. 116
Jones. Miss Mary 293
Jones, Miss Anna Holland 295
Jones, Miss Nancy 300
Jones, Mrs. Sissieretta 325
Jones, Mrs. Rosa Kinckle 337
Lewis, Edmonia 69
Lewis, Miss Lillian A. 129
Leslie, Mrs. N. A. R. 247
Lawson, Mrs. Rosetta E. Coakley 268
Lee, Mary E., B. S. 277
Lowery, Miss Ruth 357
Mossell, Mrs. N. F. 23
Mathews, Mrs. W. E. 30
McKinney, Susan S., M. D. 99
McEwen, Miss Alice Elizabeth 249
Morton, Verina H., M. D. 267
Nahar, Miss Ednorah 181
Other Distinguished Women 339
Page, Mrs. Zelia R. Ball 153
Presley, Mrs. Harriette Estelle Harris 158
Pclham., Miss Meta E. 272
Puree, Mrs. C. L. 306
Pace, Mrs. Dinah Watts 352
Patton, Georgia Esther Lee, M. D 364
Ruffin, Mrs. Josephine St. Pierce 144
Smith, Mrs. Amanda 57
Scotia Seminary 97
Scott, Mrs. Charlotte 102
Selika, Madam 361
Shorter, Mrs. Susie Isabella Lankford 162
• Smith, Miss Lucy Wilmot 165
St. Augustine School 178
Spencer, Miss Ella D. 231
Smith, Mrs. Christine S. 251
Stumm, Mrs. C. C. 270
Sneed, Mrs. Lavinia B. 270
Scott, Mrs. Virginia E. M. Hunt 280
Smith, Miss Willie Ann 298
s/Scruggs, Mifes Lucie Johnson 231
Truth, Sojourner 48
Tillman, Mrs. Kate D. Chapman 203
Tilghman, Miss A. L. 211
Terrell, Mary Church, A. B. A. M. 227
Thomas, Mrs. Lillian May 235
Wheatley, Phillis 1
Washington, Mrs. Josephine Turpin 89
Williams, Mrs. Ella V. Chase 95
Wells, Ida B., A. M. 33
Women of the A. M. E. Church 148
Washington, Mrs. Rachel M. 273
Webb, Mrs. M. R. Rodgers 287
Yates, Mrs. Josephine A. Silone 40