Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Biographical Information (American National Biography)

Mamie E. Locke, "Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
[Frances Harper] was orphaned at an early age and raised by an aunt. She attended a school for free blacks, which was run by her uncle, the Reverend William Watkins. Her formal education ended at age thirteen. Harper became a nursemaid and found additional employment as a seamstress, needlecraft teacher, and traveling abolitionist lecturer. She also lectured in support of woman suffrage. She later became a schoolteacher in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In 1860 she married Fenton Harper; they had one child, who died in 1909. After her husband's death in 1864, she returned to the lecture circuit, promoting black education and Sunday school teaching. She also served as superintendent of colored work in the Women's Christian Temperance Union and often made speeches on its behalf, pointing out the evils of strong drink and the need for higher standards of morality. Continuing her feminist pursuits after the abolition of slavery, Harper spoke at the Women's Rights convention in 1866 and the Equal Rights Association in 1869. Although she more strongly advocated black male suffrage at that time, she continued to stress the need for women's right to vote. She was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women in the 1890s and served as a vice president until her death.
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