Hallie Quinn Brown

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Hallie Quinn Brown
Hallie Q Brown.jpg
BornHallie Quinn Brown
(1849-03-10)March 10, 1849
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedSeptember 16, 1949(1949-09-16) (aged 100)
Wilberforce, Ohio, U.S.
Resting placeMassies Creek Cemetery, Cedarville, Ohio
Occupationeducator, writer, activist
Alma materWilberforce University

Hallie Quinn Brown (March 10, 1849 – September 16, 1949)[A] was an American educator, writer and activist.[1]

Originally of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she moved with her parents while quite young to a farm near Chatham, Canada. Brown was born to two former slaves. Brown's family moved to Canada in 1864 and then to Ohio in 1870. In 1868, she began a course of study in Wilberforce University, Ohio, from which she graduated in 1873 with the degree of Bachelor of Science.

She started her career by teaching at a country school in South Carolina and at the same time, a class of older people. After this, she went to Mississippi, where she again had charge of a school. She became employed as a teacher at Yazoo City, Mississippi, before securing a position as teacher in Dayton, Ohio. Resigning due to ill health, she then traveled in the interest of Wiberforce University on a lecture tour, and was particularly welcomed at Hampton Normal School (now Hampton University) in Virginia. Though elected as instructor in elocution and literature at Wilberforce University, she declined the offer in order to accept a position at Tuskegee Institute. In 1886, she graduated from Chautauqua, and in 1887 received the degree of Master of Science from her alma mater, Wilberforce, being the first woman to do so.[2]

Early years and education[edit]

Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of six children.[3][4] Her parents, Frances Jane Scroggins and Thomas Arthur Brown, were freed slaves.[4] Her brother, Jeremiah, became a politician in Ohio.[5]

At a young age, Brown's parents and siblings migrated to Ontario, Canada. She attended Wilberforce University and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1873. There were a total of six people in her class. [3] One of her classmates was the wife of Rev. B. F. Lee, D.D., ex-President of Wilberforce.[6]



Cabinet card of Hallie Quinn Brown

Realizing that a great field of labor lay in the South, Brown, with true missionary' spirit, left her pleasant home and friends to devote herself to the noble work she had chosen. Her first school was on a plantation in South Carolina,[4] where she endured the rough life as best she could, and taught a large number of children from neighboring plantations. She also taught a class of aged people, who were then able to read the Bible. She next took charge of a school on Sonora Plantation, in Mississippi,[4] the people much hindered by the use of tobacco and whisky. Her plantation school had no windows, but it was well ventilated and the rain beat in fiercely. Not being successful in getting the authorities to fix the building, she secured the willing service of two of her larger students. She mounted one mule, and the two boys another, and thus they rode to the gin mill. They got cotton seed, returned, mixed it with earth, which formed a plastic mortar, and with her own hands she pasted up the holes.[6]

Her fame as instructor spread and her services were secured as teacher at Yazoo City. On account of the unsettled state of affairs in 1874–5, she was compelled to return North. Thus the South lost one of its most valuable missionaries. Brown then taught in Dayton, Ohio, for four years. Owing to ill health, she gave up teaching. She was persuaded to travel for her alma mater, Wilberforce, and started on a lecturing tour, concluding at Hampton School, Virginia. After taking a course in elocution at this place, she traveled again, having much greater success, and received favorable criticism from the press.[7]

She was dean of Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, from 1885 to 1887 and principal of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama during 1892–93 under Booker T. Washington.[3][4] She became a professor at Wilberforce in 1893, and was a frequent lecturer on African American issues and the temperance movement, speaking at the international Woman's Christian Temperance Union conference in London in 1895 and representing the United States at the International Congress of Women in London in 1899.[citation needed]


Hallie Brown, giving a speech at Poro College in 1920.[8]

For several years she traveled with "The Wilberforce Grand Concert Company", an organization for the benefit of Wilberforce College. She read before hundreds of audiences, and tens of thousands of people. She possessed a magnetic voice, seeming to have perfect control of the muscles of the throat, and could vary her voice as successfully. As a public reader, Brown enthused her audiences. In her humorous selections, she often caused "wave after wave" of laughter; in her pathetic pieces, she often moved her audience to tears.[7]

Reformer and activist[edit]

In 1893, Brown presented a paper at the World's Congress of Representative Women in Chicago. In addition to Brown, four more African American women presented at the conference: Anna Julia Cooper, Fannie Barrier Williams, Fanny Jackson Coppin, and Sarah Jane Woodson Early.[9]

Brown was a founder of the Colored Woman's League of Washington, D.C., which in 1894 merged into the National Association of Colored Women.[3] She was president of the Ohio State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs from 1905 until 1912, and of the National Association of Colored Women from 1920 until 1924. She spoke at the Republican National Convention in 1924 and later directed campaign work among African-American women for President Calvin Coolidge.[3] Brown was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta.[when?]

Private life[edit]

She was a prominent member of the A. M. E. Church; also a member of the "King's Daughters," "Human Rights League," and the "Isabella Association."[10] Brown died on September 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and is buried at Massies Creek Cemetery in Cedarville, Ohio.[11] Her biography, Hallie Quinn Brown, Black Woman Elocutionist, 1845(?)-1949, was published by Annjennette Sophie in 1975.[12]

Selected works[edit]

  • Bits and Odds: A Choice Selection of Recitations (1880)
  • First Lessons in Public Speaking (1920)
  • Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction, with introduction by Josephine Turpin Washington (1926)


  1. ^
    Some sources give her birth year as 1850.


  1. ^ Kates, Susan (1997). "The Embodied Rhetoric of Hallie Quinn Brown". College English. 59 (1): 59–71. doi:10.2307/378798. JSTOR 378798.
  2. ^ Scruggs 1893, p. 18-19.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ohles 1978, p. 185.
  4. ^ a b c d e Donawerth 2002, p. 172.
  5. ^ Simmons & Turner 1887, p. 113-17.
  6. ^ a b Haley & Washington 1895, p. 581.
  7. ^ a b Haley & Washington 1895, p. 583.
  8. ^ Taylor, Julius F. "The Broad Ax". Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  9. ^ Hairston 2013, p. 121.
  10. ^ Scruggs 1893, p. 18.
  11. ^ "Hallie Quinn Brown (1850 - 1949) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  12. ^ McFarlin 1975, p. 1.



External links[edit]