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Harper, Frances E.W.

  • By: Roshaunda D. Cade
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a black writer, lecturer, abolitionist, suffragist, promoter of women's rights, and proponent of social uplift. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to free parents, but was orphaned at 3 years old. Her uncle and aunt, Reverend and Mrs. William Watkins, raised and educated her at her uncle's institution, the William Watkins Academy for Negro Youth in Baltimore. The school was known for its academic rigor and training in classic subjects such as literature and elocution. Through her affiliation with the Academy, Harper received a better education than most women, regardless of race or class, of her time.

At 14 years old, Harper had to seek employment, and despite her education, she became the house servant of a Quaker family. The family, ...

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