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The Colored Woman of Today - 1897

The Colored Woman of Today: Some Notable Types (1897)

By Fannie Barrier Williams

There is something very interesting and wonderfully hopeful in the development of the woman side of the colored race in this country, yet no women amongst us are so little known as the thousands of bright, alert, cultured, and gracious colored women of to-day.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

Mrs. Fannie Barrier Williams.

A little over a century ago colored women had no social status, and indeed only thirty years ago the term “womanhood” was not large enough in this Christian republic to include any woman of African descent. No one knew her, no one was interested in her. Her birthright was supposed to be all the social evils that had been the dismal heritage of her race for two centuries. This is still the popular verdict to an astounding degree in all parts of our country. A national habit is not easily cured, and the habit of the American people, who indiscriminately place all colored women on the lowest social levels in this country, has tended to obscure from view and popular favor some of the most interesting women in the land.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

Mrs. Josephine Bartlett, Chicago.

But in spite of these prejudicial hindrances and a lack of confidence the young colored women of this generation are emerging from obscurity in many interesting ways that will happily surprise those who have never known them by their womanly qualities and graceful accomplishments. Such women seem to have no relationship to the slavery conditions of the yesterday of history. In a surprisingly brief period of time they have been completely lifted out of the past by the Americanism which transforms and moulds into higher forms all who come under the spell of American free institutions.

It should also be noted that the thousands of cultured and delightfully useful women of the colored race who are worth knowing and who are prepared to co-operate with white women in all good efforts, are simply up-to-date new women in the best sense of that much-abused term. If there be one virtue that is conspicuous in the characters of these women it is the passion to be useful and active in everything that befits high-minded and cultivated women.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.


Kitchen Women

The Risk of Office Holding by Women (1913)

The Remonstrance was the official publication of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. First published annually and later quarterly in Boston from February, 1890 until April 1919, it provided a forum for women who opposed the expansion of voting rights to women.

To the Editor of The Remonstrance:

May not we, who protest against the further extension of the franchise to women, reasonably lay stress upon a danger to the sex which will probably be one of its results, namely the increased holding of public office by women? If those who desire it, obtain Woman Suffrage, will this not come as a natural consequence?

Will those women who are not satisfied that men should choose their representatives and law-makers, be content to be exclusively represented and governed by them? Shall we not see many women strive for entrance and enter into public and political life and all that it involves for brain and body? Will they not squander and dissipate in combat with man and the usurpation of many of his functions, the strength and force which should be used for what we believe to be the real object of their existence?

For we, even as the suffragists, have our ideal for woman. We believe that she has her great work to do for the human race, but, along the lines laid down for her from the Creation. We believe that it is her part to influence and educate both man and woman towards an ever more unselfish, nobler and more spiritual conception of life.

We believe that, unaided by the franchise, she can do this for her unenlightened brother and her over-burdened sister. We believe that her spheres, in these days of wider opportunities, are not only in the home, but in the office, the department-store, and the factory also. We believe that if each true woman, standing where nature or the necessities of living have placed her, will use her powers and opportunities thoughtfully and without prejudice, man can be trusted more and more surely by her, faithfully to perform his great part in the guidance of civilization and the uplifting of society.

Since we believe this and that the right to vote and the duty of voting will add too heavily to the life-work of the conscientious woman, the world over, how much more overpowering must we consider the burden to be laid upon her inadequate body and brain, if she is to be called upon to take a place in the strenuous battle of public and political life.

—Jane Dexter

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).


Men for Women’s Suffrage (1911)

(The Western Woman Voter/October 1911) An incident full of meaning at the Sixth Congress of the International Suffrage Alliance which convened this summer at Stockholm was the formation of an International Men’s League for Woman Suffrage.

Fraternal Delegates from Men’s Leagues of five nations sat in the Congress waiting to make their addresses. They attracted the attention of the International President, and deploring the loss of so much power, she remarked early in the congress that they might put in time to good advantage by starting a Men’s League in Sweden. It was a spark to powder. The League was formed forthwith, with literary, university, parliamentary and other lights combining in one blaze of suffrage enthusiasm, and from this national league the men went on to an international one.

Another noteworthy event was the unanimous vote of the Alliance that it should not ally itself with any political party but should keep the suffrage issue single. This decision was reached after a debate covering two days, and in spite of the fact that some of the delegates were, personally, strong partisans, so that the unanimous vote was the more significant. The Americans, from the first, supported this policy.

At this Congress for the first time in the history of woman suffrage the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (American) sent a fraternal delegate to a “women ‘s rights” meeting. Mary Garrett Hay of New York bore the greetings.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).


Run-Away from the Subscriber-Blur

Run-Away from the Subscriber…

Freedom on the Move is a database of fugitives from North American slavery. With the advent of newspapers in the American colonies, enslavers posted “runaway ads” to try to locate fugitives. Additionally, jailers posted ads describing people they had apprehended in search of the enslavers who claimed the fugitives as property.

Many of these ads, in their original context, are available to Accessible Archives subscribers in the 18th century newspapers of Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

This ad is particularly moving because it involves what sounds like a family and at least some of the group had lived as free people for a time before being re-enslaved.

Fifty Pounds Reward

The South-Carolina Gazette, April 3, 1775

The South-Carolina Gazette, April 3, 1775

(The South-Carolina Gazette, April 3, 1775) RUN-AWAY from the Subscriber at Herring’s Bluff, in St. Matthew’s Parish, the Five following NEGROES,viz.

A Negro Fellow named July; a Wench named Kate (Wife of July). July is a slim made Fellow, pitted with the smallpox. Kate is a stout black Wench, with remarkable large Breasts. Sophia, a slim made Girl about thirteen Years of Age. Charles, a Boy about five Years of Age, and one Girl about eighteen Months old.

The above Negroes were purchased by me from the Rev. Mr. Tonge, who lived at or near Dorchester. When I purchased them, they had been out 18 Months, and passed for free Negroes in the back Parts of this Province. July is a sensible artful Fellow, and may again attempt to pass for a free Negro, as he has formerly done. Any Person apprehending the said Negroes, and delivering them up to any of the Country Goals, or to the Warden of the Workhouse in Charles-Town, shall receive a Reward of Fifty Pounds, with all reasonable Charges.

-Feb. 1, 1775. WILLIAM FLUD.

N. B. It is suspected that they will go towards North Carolina. If the said Fellow July should be catched and carried to any of the Country Goals, he must be put in Irons, as he will strive to make his Escape.


The “Assisted” Irish Immigration Problem

This editorial tackling the subsidized immigration from Ireland to the United States appeared in Frank Leslies Weekly on July 7, 1883.

Our Government has not taken action a day too soon in putting a stop to the pauper immigration from Ireland. If a rigorous examination has proved that the “assisted” immigrants of the steamer Furnessia were principally paupers, is it not reasonable to conclude that rigorous examination, had it been applied, would have proved the same fact in regard to the emigrant freight of the steamer Belgravia, and of the steamers which have been arriving at Philadelphia, and of those which bore the crowds of destitute Irish against whose shipment to Boston Governor Butler of Massachusetts protested—of every steamer, in short, which has reached America from Ireland since the day Earl Spencer helped the women and children aboard the tenders and waved them a courtly adieu from the quay of Belmullet? What guarantee have we that of the Irish who have reached our shores within the past month there are not thousands in the plight of these “eighteen forced emigrants now in New Haven in destitute circumstances, only five of whom are able to work,” which Mr. Reynolds, of the Irish deputation, described to President Arthur the other day, or of the “seventy-three” who, according to Mr. Smith, of Ohio, are “a burden upon the community of Tiffin”?

We are anxious to respect England whenever and in whatever England is respectable; but we are under no obligation to palliate or apologize for England’s offenses against humanity, or to call them anything but their proper names; and when these offenses take the form of injuries to the interests of the United States, we think it is an occasion for something else than an interchange of diplomatic platitudes.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.

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