Honoring Lesser Known Women Ancestors

In every family, there are countless examples of women who courageously and quietly endured emotional, physical, societal, financial and other pressures. Yet, their lives crafted our family legacies. We are grateful.

To honor them during Women’s History Month, dig a little deeper in your family archives and in the public domain to share their stories of inspiration, even if it seems that they led so-called ordinary lives. To help you get started in honoring our female ancestors, here are a few extraordinary Black women’s stories.

Hanging in Chicago’s DuSable Museum is this quilt handcrafted by a former slave, Melvina Young.

Hand-stitched quilt cover, late 19th century Ms. Young’s “work likely created this quilt cover as free person, having been emancipated after the Civil War ended.  Many enslaved people worked in the homes of the plantation owners.  A common domestic role was that of seamstress, and Ms. Young probably learned to sew and quilt while working in her owner’s Tennessee home.”

Gift of Daisy Lewis in Memory of Melvina Young
DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center

Black women were vocal about atrocities of the post-Civil War and openly advocated for better health, educational, societal, family and living arrangements. Some of their compelling stories are found here.

Stagecoach Mary is legendary in many historical circles.

Violette Anderson: In 1926, she became the first Black Women who earned the right to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court

Shown below in The Broad Ax newspaper (July 29, 1922). Courtesy Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.