Black History and Women Timeline 1870-1899

Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Ida B. Wells-Barnett. R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The following is a timeline of the history of Black women in America from 1870 through 1899.


• 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave the right to vote without regard to "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"—but the Amendment did not apply to Black women (or any other women)

• Susan McKinney Stewart, an early Black physician, received an M.D. from the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women


• (October 6) Fisk University Jubilee Singers began their first-ever national tour, singing gospel music to raise money for the University


• (April) Charlotte Ray admitted to the Washington, DC, bar; she graduated that year from Howard University Law School


Sarah Moore Grimke died (abolitionist, women's rights proponent, sister of Angelina Grimke Weld)



• (July 10) Mary McLeod Bethune born

Civil Rights Act of 1875 outlaws discrimination in public accommodations (invalidated in Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896)



Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction by withdrawing U.S. Army troops from the South



• Mary Eliza Mahoney graduated from the nursing school at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, Boston, becoming the first Black professional nurse

• Angelina Emily Grimke Weld died (abolitionist, women's rights proponent, sister of Sarah Moore Grimke)


• (October 20) Lydia Maria Child died (abolitionist, writer)

• (November 11) Lucretia Mott died (Quaker abolitionist and women's rights advocate)


• Tennessee passed first Jim Crow laws

• Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded Spelman College, the first college for African American women


• (September 8) Sarah Mapps Douglass died


• (November 26) Sojourner Truth died (abolitionist, women's rights proponent, minister, lecturer)

• Mary Ann Shadd Cary became the second Black woman in the United States to earn a law degree


• Mary Church Terrell (then Mary Church) graduated from Oberlin College (activist, clubwoman)

• (January 24) Helen Pitts married Frederick Douglass, setting off controversy and opposition to their interracial marriage


• (June 6) A'Lelia Walker, daughter of Madam C.J. Walker, born (activist, executive, Harlem Renaissance figure)

Sarah Goode received the first U.S. patent awarded to a Black woman





• (January 28) Prudence Crandall died (educator)


• Emma Frances Grayson Merritt (1860-1933) established the first U.S. kindergarten for Black students

• The House of Bondage, a collection of narratives of enslaved people, published, and written by formerly enslaved Octavia R. Albert

• Clarence and Corinne or God's Way published by the American Baptist Publication, the first Sunday School book written by a Black American

• Janie Porter Barrett founded the Locust Street Settlement House in Hampton, Virginia


• newspaper Freedom: a Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly founded by Lucy Parsons


• Anna Julia Cooper published Voice of the South, writing of the status of Black women in America

• Hallie Brown served as "lady principal" (dean of women), Tuskegee Institute

• President Benjamin Harrison entertained by Sissieretta Jones (singer)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper published Iola Leroy: or Shadows Uplifted

• Patent issued for an ironing board invented by Sarah Boone

• (January) Bessie Coleman (pilot) born - or 1893

• (October) Ida B. Wells published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and in All Its Phases, beginning her public anti-lynching campaign

• (-1894) many African American women's clubs were founded for race and women's progress

  • New York City (Victoria Earle Matthews)
  • Brooklyn (Susan McKinney)
  • Boston (Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin)


• World Columbian Exposition largely excluded Black Americans.

  • A few Black women spoke at the fair's Women's Congress on "The Intellectual Progress of Colored Women of the US Since Emancipation": Fannie Barrier Williams spoke on the responsibility of white men for sexual exploitation of Black women. Anna Julia Cooper and Fanny Jackson Coppin also spoke.
  • Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, and Ferdinand Barnett wrote "The Reason Why the Colored American is Not in the Columbian Exposition."

• African Methodist Episcopal Church founded the Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society

• publication of The Autobiography of Amanda Berry Smith, AME Evangelist

• Fanny Kemble died (wrote about enslavement)

• Lucy Stone died (editor, abolitionist, women's rights advocate)

• (April 13) Nella Larson born (writer, nurse)

• (June 5) Mary Ann Shadd Cary died (journalist, teacher, abolitionist, activist)

• (-1903) Hallie Brown served as professor of elocution at Wilberforce University


• Sarah Parker Remond died (anti-slavery lecturer whose British lectures probably helped keep the British from entering the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy)

• National Association of Colored Women began publishing The Woman's Era

• Gertrude Mossell published The Work of the Afro-American Woman


• National Federation of Afro-American Women founded by about 100 women from ten different states, the first national federation of Black women's clubs. Margaret Washington was elected the first president. Founders included Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Barrier Williams

• Ida B. Wells published Red Record, a statistical study of lynching

• Frederick Douglass died (abolitionist, women's rights activist, lecturer)


• National Federation of African American Women and the Colored Women's League merged into the National Association of Colored Women, selecting Mary Church Terrell as president

• (March 18) Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson upholds Louisiana law segregating railway cars, invalidating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and leading to the passage of many more Jim Crow laws

• (July 1) Harriet Beecher Stowe died (writer)

• (July 21) National Association of Colored Women formed; Mary Church Terrell, president


Harriet Tubman won pension for her Civil War military service

• Victoria Earle Matthews founded the White Rose Mission to provide aid to Southern Black women moving to New York City

• Phillis Wheatley Home for Aged Colored Ladies founded by Fannie M. Richards in Detroit—the first of many named for the poet Phillis Wheatley to provide housing and services for single Black women in large U.S. cities

• Charlamae Rollins born (writer, librarian)

• A Slave Girl's Story published, autobiography of Kate Drumgold

• Marita Bonner born (writer, teacher)


• Maggie Lena Walker became head (Right Worthy Grand Secretary) of the Independent Order of St. Luke Society, which she helped transform into an effective philanthropic society in Richmond, Virginia

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Black History and Women Timeline 1870-1899." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Black History and Women Timeline 1870-1899. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Black History and Women Timeline 1870-1899." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).