Women and the Early Press

What was the first black woman’s weekly column published in the New York Freeman?

Editor, journalist, and feminist Gertrude Bustill Mossell (1855–1948) began the first black woman’s weekly column in the New York Freeman, in 1885. The column was known as “Our Women’s Department”; it appeared in the first issue of the Freeman, in December. Mossell introduced her first column, on the subject “Woman’s Suffrage,” by saying that it was to be “devoted to the interest of women,” and that she would continue to “promote true womanhood especially that of the African race.” An educator and feminist, Mossell was born in Philadelphia into an elite free black family. She campaigned for equal rights and women’s rights. For seven years she taught at various places in New Jersey and in Delaware, but left teaching after she married, as married women were forbidden to teach. After that she developed her career in journalism and became active in women’s rights and in social reform movements.


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