Ames, Jessie Daniel, 1883-1972

Alternative names
Birth 1883-11-02
Death 1972-02-21

Biographical notes:

North Carolina resident (Polk County) and general field secretary of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.

From the description of Papers, 1902-1946. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 31311677

From the description of Papers, 1920-1946. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 122525094

Jessie Daniel Ames, civil rights worker of Atlanta, Ga., Georgetown, Tex., and Tryon, N.C. Beginning in 1922, Ames served separate roles as secretary and vice-president of the Texas Committee on Interracial Cooperation. By 1929, she had moved to Atlanta, where she was director of Women's Work for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. During this time, Ames established the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, which functioned as a volunteer component within the Commission.

From the description of Jessie Daniel Ames papers, 1866-1972. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 43927312

Jessie Daniel Ames, daughter of Laura Leonard and James M. Daniel, grew up in Georgetown, Tex. She married Roger Post Ames, a United States Public Health Service doctor. While Roger Ames pursued medical research on tropical diseases in South America, Jessie lived with her sister Lulu Daniel Hardy in Columbia, Tenn. In 1914, Roger Ames died of blackwater fever, leaving Jessie a single mother with two children, Frederick and Mary, and a third, Lulu, on the way. Jessie supported the children with the assistance of her mother and became increasingly involved in issues of social justice in Texas.

In the years leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Ames worked for women's suffrage. From the 1920s through the 1940s she held various positions within the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. Her civil rights work began in earnest in 1922, when she became vice president of the Texas Commission. In 1929, she joined the staff of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation in Atlanta as director of Women's Work. Ames organized the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching as a volunteer movement within the Commission and ultimately beyond it. She travelled extensively throughout Texas and the South, speaking and organizing support for racial justice.

In addition to her public career, Ames faced significant challenges in her family life. The family was profoundly affected when Lulu was crippled by polio in 1920. The financial struggle of single motherhood intensified when her mother's resources were wiped out in the Depression. Jessie was determined to make her children, particularly her daughters, financially independent. Mary and Frederick became pediatricians and Lulu, though crippled by polio in childhood, supported herself as an editor.

Jessie Daniel Ames retired to Tryon, N.C., in 1945 and died in 1972.

For further information see Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women's Campaign Against Lynching (Columbia, 1979).

From the guide to the Jessie Daniel Ames Papers, 1866-1972, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)


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Ark ID:


  • Civil rights--History--20th century
  • African Americans--Civil rights--History--20th century
  • Civil rights workers--History--20th century
  • African Americans--Education--History--20th century
  • Families--Social life and customs
  • Women--Societies and clubs
  • Lynching
  • World War, 1939-1945--Medical care
  • Household employees--History--20th century
  • Women civil rights workers
  • Women physicians--History--20th century
  • Single mothers
  • Physicians--History--20th century
  • Lynching--Pictorial works
  • Poliomyelitis--History--20th century
  • Women social reformers--History--20th century


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  • Georgetown (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Southern States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • North Carolina (as recorded)
  • North Carolina (as recorded)
  • Tryon (N.C.) (as recorded)