African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a collection of fiction, poetry, autobiography, and essays written by African American women who lived during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The writers include some familiar names: Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Harriet A. Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, Sojourner Truth, and Phillis Wheatley, to name a few. Others are more obscure. And, still others are unknown. The author of Memoir of Old Elizabeth, A Coloured Woman, is listed as Anonymous.
The collection is one of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s early digital efforts and has been accessible on the web for more than a decade.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to 1) learn more about the women by reading their brief bios and 2) peruse the collection and read a poem or essay or whatever your heart’s desire. Now, if your heart’s desire is to read the collection in book form, you are in luck for the writings (out of print for much of the 20th Century) were collected and published in 1988 by Oxford University Press as part of the series Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers. The series can be found in many academic libraries.