Ariel Serena Hedges Bowen

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Ariel S. H. Bowen (c. 1880s)

Ariel Serena Hedges Bowen (c. 1862–1904)[1] was an African-American writer, temperance activist, and professor of music at Clark University (Atlanta) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Twentieth Century Negro Literature (1902) noted that "she is regarded as one of the foremost and best cultured women of her race."


Ariel Serena Hedges was born in Newark, New Jersey where her father, Charles Hedges, was a Presbyterian clergyman. He was an 1869 graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and he had organized churches in New York State. Her mother represented one of the oldest Presbyterian families of that state. Her grandfather was a bugler in the Mexican war, and was a Guard of Honor when Lafayette revisited the United States. Her parents moved to Pittsburgh, where she attended the Avery Institute and completed the academic course at this school. Her parents then moved to Baltimore, where her father became pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, and finally of Grace Presbyterian Church. She was sent to high school in Springfield, Massachusetts where she remained, and they graduated her with honor in 1885. She also took the Teachers' Course and Examination and passed a creditable examination, afterwards being favorably considered as teacher for one of the schools of that city. She then was called to teach History and English Language at the Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama under Prof. B. T. Washington. She read Greek, Latin, and German with facility.

In 1886, Hedges was married to Dr. J. W. E. Bowen of the Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia. She became a life member of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She moved to Atlanta with her husband in 1893, where the couple raised a family of four children (one son and three daughters).

Bowen became Professor of Music in Clark University in 1895, writing broadly on music (Music in the Home), as well as being an accomplished vocalist and musician with the piano and pipe organ.

Bowen also was a notable figure in the Southern Women's Christian Temperance Union, writing The Ethics of Reform and serving as state president of the Georgia W. C. T. U., No. 2.

Ariel Bowen Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia is named in her memory.


  1. ^ Vital dates given in Notable Black American Women, Book II. Edited by Jessie Carney Smith. Detroit: Gale Research, 1996.


  • Twentieth Century Negro Literature, edited by D. W. Culp, 1902 [1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Twentieth Century Negro Literature or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro, Edited by Daniel Wallace Culp, published 1902, Project Gutenberg EBook #18772, Release Date July 2006
  • Index to Women of the World from Ancient to Modern Times: Biographies and portraits, By Norma Olin Ireland. Westwood, MA: F.W. Faxon Co., 1970
  • In Black and White: a guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups. Third Edition. Edited by Mary Mace Spradling. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980.