The following chapter of "Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character" by Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs has been generously donated by his granddaughter. Dr. Yvonne Scruggs Leftwich, and her siblings.

In 1893 Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs published a book containing biographies of ninety-one women of African descent whose work resulted in significant contributions to the nation. The book is being published again by his granddaughter, Dr. Yvonne Scruggs Leftwich and her siblings. The book was written before women had the right to vote. Women could not participate in many institutional processes in this democracy and African American women were marginalized even more. In his Preface Dr. Scruggs wrote, “If in such a short time of greatly abridged citizenship our women have accomplished so much, and if many of these heroines mentioned did develop such giant intellects during those dark days of our history, may we not be encouraged to make more diligent, protracted efforts in this brighter age?” 

Distinguished Women

by Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs from Raleigh, NC



With a desire to be impartial as far as possible, the author has found it necessary to devote one chapter to the consideration of those distinguished persons to whom he could not at this late day give special separate chapters, having already reached the prescribed limits volume. It is pleasant, however, to make honorable mention of the following ladies of distinction, to whom we hope, in the future, to do greater justice.

MRS. DR. G. F. GRANT, of Boston, was a pupil at the New England Conservatory of Music, and was for quite awhile the very popular and accomplished organist at the North Russell Street Church.

The Boston Globe said of her:

A fine-looking young lady; achieved a like success in all her numbers, and in fine presence on the stage and in her simple, unobtrusive manner winning the sympathies of the audience.

MRS. DR. C. N. MILLER, also of Boston, was for a long time the leading soprano singer of Rev.L. Grimes church, a very valuable and favorite member of the great Tremont Temple Choir, so well noted for its good music.

The Boston Globe said of her:

She is the possessor of a well-cultivated voice of natural sweetness.

MRS. P. A. GLOVER and MRS. H. JEFFREYS are both of high rank in musical circles of Boston and possess voices of rare and natural beauty—wonderful in their power to thrill the very souls of their hearers with the melody of their songs.

MISS SARAH SEDGWICK BROWN, a lady of most charming voice as well as possessing a most wonderfully well-developed musical talent, fine interpretations and renditions of operatic and classical music. She has been quite often called the "Colored Nightingale."

The Daily Pennsylvanian of May 3, 1856, said of her:

We have never been called upon to record a more brilliant and instantaneous success than has thus far attended this talented young aspirant to musical honors. From obscurity she has risen to popularity, She has not been through the regular routine of advancement, but, as it were, in a moment endowed by nature with the wonderful power of song, she delighted the circle in which she moved, and is now enchanting the public. Last evening the hall was thronged at an early hour. In every song she was unanimously encored.

She has always stood high in Philadelphia, where she has quietly lived and acted well her part.

MISS CELESTINE O. BROWNE, a very prominent citizen of Jamestown, New York, has made much prestige as a pianist.

The Boston Folio of December 1876, said of her: She is a fine pianist, very brilliant and showy as soloist and accompanist.

She was at one time a member of the Hyers Sisters' Concert. 

MADAM ALBERT WILSON, of Brooklyn, New York, is among our foremost pianists and has been highly spoken of by the press—having accompanied some of our best singers. She was prominent with Madam Sissieretta Jones ("Black Patti" on several very noted occasions.

MADAM EMMA SAVAILE JONES, of Brooklyn, N. Y., possesses one of those well-cultivated voices. In this she is not so richly endowed with the gifts of nature as some others of her sisters, while on the other hand she is a well-trained and highly cultured vocalist. She furnishes a living and striking example of what a young woman may do for herself and her race, even though Nature may not have so richly endowed her as it has some others of her companions.

MADAM ADELE V. MONTGOMERY, of New York City, has been by many very competent critics regarded as the colored pianist of America. She is certainly an expert at the piano. She has accompanied Madam Bergen in many of her concerts in the Eastern and Middle States. remake.

MISS EMMA MAGNAN, of New York City, is sister of Madam Montgomery, and is quite a noted pianist, and at the same time sings very sweetly.

MRS. JOSIE D. HEARD. We very much regret that somehow we failed to get any response to repeated efforts to obtain the facts of this very excellent lady's history. However, suffice it to say that she is a valuable part of the best society in Philadelphia, not only from a strictly social stand-point of view, but as a talented, faithful woman; popular not only at home, but throughout the country, because of her sterling worth as a woman in the full sense of the word —ambitious, 'learned and true.

We take pleasure in quoting the following poem, "I Love Thee," as a specimen of some of her many and varied writings ;

Thou art not near me, but I see thine eyes

Shine through the gloom like stars in winter skies,

Pointing the way my longing steps would go,

To come to thee because I love thee so.

Thou art not near me, but I feel thine arm,

Soft folded round me, shielding me from harm,

Guiding me on as in days of old—Sometimes life seems so dark, so dreary and so cold.

Thou art not near me, but I hear thee speak,

Sweet as the breath of June upon my cheek,

And as thou speakest I forget my fears,

And all the darkness, and my lonely tears.

O love, my love, whatever our fate may be,

Close to thy side, or never more with thee,

Absent or present, near or far apart

Thou hast my love and fillest all my heart 


MRS. DR. A. M. CURTIS was born in San Francisco, Cal., on the 10th day of July 1871. Having been deprived of her parents by death when she was quite young, she was cared for by an aunt, who encouraged and fostered her education. She, in after years, married Dr. A. M. Curtis, with whom she went to Chicago to begin life's work. Dr. Curtis is now enjoying a large and lucrative practice; to this energetic lady, doubtless, he owes some of his success. Mrs. Curtis has recently been made Secretary of the Colored Department of the World's Fair at Chicago. Mrs. Curtis is an energetic, faithful, pleasant woman of inure than ordinary gifts. She is educated and refined—a great race lover.

MARY ANN SHADD CAREY. This remarkable person was born in Delaware. She did much to educate herself, and far outran many of her sisters who were also free during those dark days of American Slavery. As a lecturer, debater and shrewd speech-maker she was indeed a most wonderful member of the Dark Race. 

MISS H. CORDELIA RAY is the daughter of the late Charles B. Ray. She has reached a high point of reputation as both an excellent poetical and prose writer. Having received her education in the very excellent schools of New York City, the place of her birth, she quite naturally ranks high in literary circles. She began to write verse as early as ten years old. Her works are very numerous in both prose and poetry and would do her credit if published in one volume. Miss Ray has the distinctive honor of being a graduate of the School of Pedagogy, which is one of the departments of the University of the City of New York, from which she received the degree of "Master of Pedagogy" in 1891.

MISS M. L. BALDWIN, of Cambridge, Mass., is doing a most excellent work in her native State. She is principal of the Agassiz School in that noted city of letters. A strong advocate of equal justice to all men, a strong opponent of the separation of Americanized races into classes, she believes that the idea of "fencing off is equally harmful" to all concerned. In matters of country and the country's welfare and best interests she thinks there should be one common standard by which all should be judged. As we understand her position, we heartily indorse the idea of equality of rights, in law and government, to all.

MISS EDWINA BLANCHE KRUSE is an example of good works, and well establishes the fact of Afro-American possibilities. When matters of negro education were enshrouded in gross darkness in Wilmington, Del., this woman of the Mosaic type came to the front, and, like a well-skilled warrior, as she is, she pushed the fight for schools in which her people could be educated to some degree of satisfaction. Her work succeeded and now in Delaware there are several well-equipped schools. Miss Kruse is principal of one of these three schools. To her belongs the credit of this great work, which it has taken her years to accomplish.

Although we failed to obtain the facts, we so much desired concerning the lives of the following named ladies, yet we take great pleasure in placing them upon the list of "Women of Distinction" by giving, as near as we can, their names and addresses. They deserve even more than honorable mention, but "such" as we have we "give unto" them, with the hope of doing them full justice when the facts in their history are at our command: Miss Lucy Moten, Washington, D. C.; Miss Frazelia Campbell, Philadelphia, Pa.; Miss Julia Wormley, Washington, D. C.; Miss Addie Wait, Normal, Ala.; Mrs. Frances Preston, Detroit, Mich.; Mrs. Lucy Hereford, Montgomery, Ala.; Mrs. Mary Shadd Carey, Washington, D. C.; Mrs. Carrie L. Steele, Atlanta, Ga.; Mrs. Bertha B. Cook, Wilmington, Del.; Mrs. R. H. Long, Columbus, Mo.; Mrs. E. L. Boone, Columbus, Mo.; Mrs. Sarah Mitchell, Cleveland, Ohio; Mrs. M. C. Terrell, Washington, D. C.; Miss Lucy Laney, Mrs. Alice Vassar, Lynchburg, Va.

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