From 1881 to 1885, this was the home of Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), who was a writer, journalist, educator, abolitionist, and lawyer. She is generally regarded as the first Black female journalist in North America and Canada’s first female journalist, acting as the co-editor of Canada’s first anti-slavery newspaper, the Provincial Freeman. In addition to co-editing the newspaper and contributing editorials, Shadd Cary also published several pamphlets and articles in Washington, DC newspapers.
Her concern for the welfare of Black Americans also led to a long career in the teaching profession. She not only taught but also supervised and established a school in East Chester, New York. A gifted lecturer, she appeared before audiences throughout the country to speak on abolition and women’s suffrage throughout the nineteenth century. In October 1855, she attended the Philadelphia National Convention, the first Black female to be admitted as a “corresponding member,” and served as a Recruiting Officer for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Today, Shadd Cary is recognized as one of the first Black female lawyers in the United States, earning her degree from Howard University in 1883 at the age of sixty years old. While she took on the law, Shadd Cary continued her interest in journalism by contributing to The New National Era and The Advocate newspapers.
This landmark recognizes her distinguished life and her dedication to freedom, equality, and the advancement of Black people across the United States.
DC Inventory: March 3, 1979
National Register: December 8, 1976
National Historic Landmark: December 8, 1976
Within Greater U Street Historic District
This site is included in the Women's Suffrage in Washington DC tour for Mary Ann Shadd Cary's role in establishing the Colored Women's Progressive Franchise Association, one of the first organized efforts on behalf of Black women to organize independently from white suffragists for the right to vote.