African American Women in Antebellum America

Amid the harshness of slavery, American women of African descent managed to preserve the culture of their ancestry and articulate their struggles. Black female poets and writers emerged throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Many prominent free black women in the North were active in the Abolitionist Movement.

Slave Women
Enslaved women in every state of the antebellum Union undoubtedly considered escaping from bondage, but relatively few attempted it - often to …Read More...

Pioneer in Education for African Americans and Children

Abolitionist, educator, philanthropist and suffragist from the village of Sherwood in Cayuga County, New York, Emily Howland was an avid supporter of education for women and African American children. She founded and financially supported fifty schools for emancipated blacks and taught in several of them. She donated the land and financial backing to build a school for black children in her hometown, which later became Emily Howland School.

Early Years
Emily …Read More...

Activist in the Abolitionist and Women's Rights Movements

Image: Family of Slaves
Washington, DC, 1861

Josephine Sophia White Griffing was a social reform activist who campaigned for the abolition of slavery and women's rights. In 1864, she moved to our nation's capital to help the newly freed slaves who were streaming into the capital by the thousands. Griffing worked primarily as an agent for the Freedmen's Bureau in Washington, DC.

Early Years
Josephine White was born December …Read More...

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was a publisher, journalist and editor of Women's Era, the first newspaper published by and for African American women. She is perhaps best remembered for her role in establishing the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs.

The U.S. Government and the Sea Island Slaves

Backstory
In August 1861, at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, Union General Benjamin Butler declared that the slaves who escaped and came into his lines for protection were contraband of war, a term commonly used thereafter to describe this new status of slaves, which meant that the Army would not return escaped slaves to their masters. This would set the stage for a much larger undertaking at Port Royal a few months …Read More...

Abolitionist and Wife of William Lloyd Garrison

While her husband got all the glory, Helen Benson Garrison was an abolitionist in her own right. She raised funds for the American Anti-Slavery Society in many ways, particularly as a manager of the annual Boston Anti-Slavery Bazaar.

Helen Benson was born on February 23, 1811 in Providence, Rhode Island to George and Sarah Thurber Benson. At the June session of the General Assembly, in 1790, an "Act to incorporate certain Persons by …Read More...