Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

crusader, long before men or women of any race entered the arena. ( Crusade, xxxi- xxxii)

However great her dedication and fearlessness, she should be acclaimed equally for her rhetorical skills. In the words of historian John Hope Franklin, "For more than forty years Ida B. Wells was one of the most fearless and one of the most respected women in the United States. She was also one of the most articulate" ( Crusade, ix). She constructed messages that could withstand scrutiny and skepticism. She developed arguments that, collectively, made a strong case for viewing lynching as a form of social control. Most important, she selected and deployed her evidence so that it could not be impeached, and she used the words of southern whites so effectively that, as she said, "out of their mouths shall the murderers be condemned" ( A Red Record, 15).


SOURCES

Much of Wells Barnett's rhetoric appeared as articles in newspapers and other periodicals. Of the three newspapers that she edited and/or owned, only the June 22, 1911, issue of the Fellowship Herald, Chicago, which she edited, is extant ( DuSable Museum, Chicago). Copies of Free Speech, like twenty-five other African-American newspapers published in Memphis, were not preserved. No copies of the Chicago Conservator for the period when she edited and owned it, June 1895-ca. January 1897, are extant. Her articles were widely quoted by the Black press; some are preserved in northern newspapers. No copy of her explosive essay "Exiled," New York Age, June 25, 1892, which was the basis for her Southern Horrors and United States Atrocities pamphlets, still exists. The most comprehensive record of her early anti-lynching campaign rhetoric is located in the British Library Newspaper Library. The best U.S. sources of information are her autobiography, Mildred Thompson's exploratory study, and the Ida B. Wells Papers, University of Chicago Library.

Other source materials are available in the Lynching Files (the most comprehensive in the United States) and the Margaret Murray Washington Papers, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama; Joel E. Spingarn Papers and nineteenth-century African-American newspapers, Moorland-Spingarn Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C.; Commission on Interracial Cooperation Papers, Committee on Civil Rights Papers, and Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching Papers, Trevor Arnett Library, Atlanta, Georgia; Ida B. Wells-Barnett Clippings File and the Irene McCoy Gaines Papers, Chicago Historical Society; Tuskegee Institute Clippings File (lynching), nineteenth-century African-American newspapers and periodicals, Chicago Public Library; Jane Addams Papers, University of Illinois, Chicago; William Monroe Trotter Papers, Boston University Library; The Woman's Era [newspaper], Boston Public Library; Mary White Ovington Papers, Wayne University Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs, Detroit, Michigan; Southern Historical Collection's Jessie Daniel Ames Papers and Southern Tenant Farmer's Union Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill; local newspapers, Public Library and Information Center, Memphis, Tennessee; Ida B. Wells File, including United States Atrocities [microfilm], Lynching Files, National Negro Congress Papers, and W.E.B. DuBois Papers, New York City Public Library; Fraternity [ SRBM journal] and assorted British newspapers, especially TheManchester Guardian

-472-

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