Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954

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Mary Church Terrell was born Sept. 23, 1863 in Memphis, TN. Her parents, Robert Reed Church and Louisa Ayers, were freed slaves. She majored in Classics at Oberlin College, the first college in the United States to accept African American and female students; she was one of the first African American women to attend the institution. Terrell graduated in 1884 with Anna Julia Cooper and Ida Gibbs Hunt. She earned her master's degree in Education from Oberlin in 1888. She began teaching at Wilberforce College before moving to Washington, D.C. to teach at the M. Street School.

In 1891 Mary married Robert Heberton Terrell, a lawyer who became the first black municipal court judge in Washington, DC. Together they had 4 children, but only one survived to adulthood (daughter Phyllis) and later adopted another daughter. Mary was active in the happenings within suffragists circles in the National Association Woman Suffrage Association and met Susan B. Anthony. She was also active in the Republican Party; Terrell was president of the Women's Republican League during Warren G. Harding's 1920 presidential campaign. In 1892, Terrell formed the Colored Women's League and later, with Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, she formed the National Association of Colored Women.

She also had a career as a journalist using the pen name "Euphemia Kirk" and wrote for a variety of newspapers: A.M.E. Church Review (Philadelphia, PA), Southern Workman (Hampton, VA), Indianapolis Freeman, Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), Washington Tribune, Chicago Defender, New York Age, Voice of the Negro, Women's World, Norfolk Journal and Guide, Washington Evening Star, Washington Post.

In 1909, Terrell was one of two black women who helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She also helped organize the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. During In World War I, Terrell was involved with the War Camp Community Service and, later, Terrell and her daughter Phyllis joined the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CUWS). She died on July 24, 1954 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. The papers of Mary Church Terrell, 1851-1962. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn 1910-1920: Outgoing, Executive: Treasury, Secretary, 01/12/1914 To Treasury, Secretary, 10/28/1916 (2 of 2) National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Century Company records New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Women's rights collection, 1789-2000 (bulk: 1864-1983) Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Mary Church Terrell Papers, 1851-1962, (bulk 1886-1954) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws. Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws records, 1949-1954. Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
referencedIn Callis, Henry Arthur, 1887-1974. Henry A. Callis papers, 1888-1974 (bulk 1905-1974). Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
creatorOf Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. Mary Church Terrell collection additions, ca. 1895-ca. 1970. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
creatorOf Stuart, Alice Jackson, 1913-2001. Papers of Alice Jackson Stuart [manuscript], 1930-2001. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
referencedIn Gaines, Irene M. (Irene McCoy), 1896-1964. Papers of Irene M. and Harris B. Gaines, 1913-1970. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
referencedIn Women's Rights Collection, 1789-2000 (bulk: 1864-1983) Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Mary Church Terrell Collection, 1888-1976 Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
referencedIn John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture. Campaign to free Mrs. Rosa Lee Ingram collection, 1954 February-May. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Harmon Foundation Collection. 1922 - 1967. "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin Painted by Two Women Artists". 1943 - 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. A colored woman in a white world [manuscript]. Library of Congress
creatorOf Terrell, Mary Church, 1863-1954. Mary Church Terrell papers, 1851-1962 (inclusive), 1886-1954 (bulk) [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Arna Bontemps Papers, 1927-1968 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin Painted by Two Women Artists", ca. 1943 - ca. 1963 National Archives at College Park
Relation Name
associatedWith Addams, Jane, 1860-1935. person
associatedWith Anthony, Susan Brownell, 1820-1906 person
associatedWith Bethune, Mary McLeod, 1875-1955. person
associatedWith Bontemps, Arna, 1902-1973 person
associatedWith Brawley, Benjamin Griffith, 1882-1939. person
associatedWith Burns, Lucy, 1879-1966 person
associatedWith Burroughs, Nannie H. person
correspondedWith Callis, Henry Arthur, 1887-1974. person
associatedWith Catt, Carrie Chapman, 1859-1947. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
employeeOf Chicago Defender corporateBody
childOf Church, Robert Reed, 1839-1912 person
associatedWith Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933. person
associatedWith Cooper, Anna J. (Anna Julia), 1858-1964 person
associatedWith Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws. corporateBody
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
founderOf Delta Sigma Theta Sorority corporateBody
associatedWith DePriest, Oscar. person
correspondedWith De Priest, Oscar, 1871-1951 person
correspondedWith DePriest, Oscar, 1871-1951 person
associatedWith Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895 person
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. person
associatedWith Fleetwood, Christian A. person
correspondedWith Gaines, Irene M. (Irene McCoy), 1896-1964. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Garrison, Francis Jackson, 1848-1916. person
associatedWith Haile Selassie Belay. person
correspondedWith Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, 1892-1975 person
associatedWith Handy, W. C. (William Christopher), 1873-1958. person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel), 1865-1923. person
associatedWith Harper, Ida Husted. person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964. person
associatedWith Hunt, Ida, Gibbs person
associatedWith Hunton, Addie D. Waites. person
correspondedWith Hunton, Addie W., b. 1866 person
employeeOf Indianapolis Freeman corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress of Women corporateBody
associatedWith International Purity Conference. corporateBody
associatedWith Katz, Maude White. person
associatedWith League of Women Voters (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Meyer, Eugene, 1875-1959. person
memberOf National American Woman Suffrage Association. corporateBody
founderOf National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
founderOf National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (U.S.) corporateBody
memberOf National Association of Colored Women (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Purity Conference. corporateBody
associatedWith National Woman's Party. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Oberlin College corporateBody
associatedWith Patterson, William L., 1891- person
correspondedWith Patterson, William L. (William Lorenzo), 1891- person
associatedWith Paul, Alice, 1885-1977 person
associatedWith Randolph, A. Philip (Asa Philip), 1889-1979. person
associatedWith Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973. person
memberOf Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) corporateBody
associatedWith Ruffin, Josephine St. Pierre, 1842-1924 person
associatedWith Simms, Ruth Hanna McCormick, 1880-1944. person
associatedWith Stein, Annie. person
associatedWith Stokes, Anson Phelps, 1874-1958. person
associatedWith Stuart, Alice Jackson, 1913-2001. person
associatedWith Terrell family. family
associatedWith Terrell family. family
spouseOf Terrell, Robert H. (Robert Heberton), 1857-1925, person
associatedWith Trotter, William Monroe, 1872-1934. person
associatedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. person
associatedWith War Camp Community Service (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. person
employeeOf Washington Evening Star corporateBody
correspondedWith Washington, Margaret James Murray, 1861?-1925 person
employeeOf Washington Post corporateBody
associatedWith Wells-Barnett, Ida B., 1862-1931 person
associatedWith Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946. person
employeeOf Wilberforce University corporateBody
associatedWith Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. corporateBody
associatedWith Woodson, Carter Godwin, 1875-1950. person
associatedWith Young Women's Christian Association. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States 00 US
Highland Beach MD US
Memphis TN US
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
African Americans
African American women
Civil rights
Constitutional amendments
Constitutional amendments
Equal rights amendments
Equal rights amendments
Progressivism (United States politics)
Race relations
Women's rights
Women's rights
African American civic leaders
African American college teachers
Civil rights leaders
Civil rights workers
College teachers
Social reformers


Birth 1863-09-23

Death 1954-07-24






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