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Fannie Barrier Williams

Crossing the Borders of Region and Race

Wanda A. Hendricks

Publication Year: 2013

Born shortly before the Civil War, activist and reformer Fannie Barrier Williams (1855-1944) became one of the most prominent educated African American women of her generation. Hendricks shows how Williams became raced for the first time in early adulthood, when she became a teacher in Missouri and Washington, D.C., and faced the injustices of racism and the stark contrast between the lives of freed slaves and her own privileged upbringing in a western New York village. She carried this new awareness to Chicago, where she joined forces with black and predominantly white women's clubs, the Unitarian church, and various other interracial social justice organizations to become a prominent spokesperson for Progressive economic, racial, and gender reforms during the transformative period of industrialization. By highlighting how Williams experienced a set of freedoms in the North that were not imaginable in the South, this clearly-written, widely accessible biography expands how we understand intellectual possibilities, economic success, and social mobility in post-Reconstruction America.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The New Black Studies Series

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

...I examined she intrigued me the most, in part because she was so unlike any other black woman in the state or, for that matter, the nation. Born at a time when the debate about slavery and race had grown more contentious and acrimonious, she was a northerner who...

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pp. 1-8

...the season, the wedding illuminated the prominence of black elite culture and highlighted the aristocratic stature of the bride’s family. Her father, Carter A. Stewart, held key positions in numerous social and political organizations and was one of the first fire department commissioner appointees in the city. The invited guests were part of his...

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1. North of Slavery: Brockport

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pp. 9-27

...of women’s voices in shaping racial discourse at the dawn of the twentieth century. The narrators viewed race and gender in unique and vastly different ways, illuminating how deep the racial fissure had become nearly four decades after the end of slavery. They included a southern “colored” woman’s autobiographical sketch of “The Race Problem...

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2. "Completely Surrounded by Screens": A Raced Identity

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pp. 28-49

...had been black slaves prior to the war, and one of the highest prewar concentrations of slaves in the state was in Marion County. By the end of Reconstruction, there was vehement opposition to the assertion of black rights in Missouri. The assault began as white Democrats began to regain control of politics shortly after the end of...

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3. Creating Community in the Midwest: Chicago

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pp. 50-68

...the leading black newspapers in the Midwest, announced the nuptials. Listed on the front page under “Knots & Tours: Matrimonial Linkings and Spring Migration of Prominent People,” the notice highlighted S. Laing’s prominence in the community and solidified the...

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4. Crossing the Border of Race: The Unitarians, the World's Fair, and the Chicago Woman's Club

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pp. 69-92

...the previous January. Crandall married Baptist minister Calvin Philleo shortly after she was forced to close her school for black girls in 1834. When the couple left Connecticut, they eventually migrated west and lived for a time in Illinois. Crandall’s life story was a strong illustration...

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5. A Distinctive Generation: "The Colored Woman's Era"

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pp. 93-118

...there to celebrate the installation of Mary Church Terrell as president and to raise awareness about the activism of women in the rapidly growing western industrial corridor of the country. It was not the first time that she had returned to the city since her move to Chicago. She still had a strong tie to Washington and often visited her sister...

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6. The New Century: North and South Meet

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pp. 119-149

...to leading black male educators and intellectuals. Her work as a journalist connected her to communities across the country and provided opportunities to discuss race, labor, and gender issues. She was an invited contributor to several black and white publications, opportunities that increased her visibility as she elucidated the important...

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7. A New Era: Duty, Responsibility, and Tension

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pp. 150-172

...network to expanding the services of local organizations and increasing black women’s engagement with municipal work in Chicago. Responding to both hardening racial attitudes and the explosion of the black population in the second decade of the twentieth century, she joined forces with black and white club women in their attempts...

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pp. 173-176

...surroundings and life.” The burden of trying to inhabit “two places at once” had become too difficult and had forced her to make the decision to leave the city she had worked in for almost four decades. She didn’t regret the move but did express some unease...


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pp. 177-214


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pp. 215-230


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pp. 231-238

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About the Author, Series Page, Production Notes

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pp. 239-242

...Wanda A. Hendricks is an associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina and is the author of...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252095870
E-ISBN-10: 0252095871
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038112

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: The New Black Studies Series