Naomi Talbert Anderson

Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Naomi Bowman Talbert Anderson, 1843-1899

By Aaron Pultman, undergraduate student, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Naomi Bowman was born in 1843 in Michigan City, Indiana, to Elijah and Guinea Bowman. She received tutoring and attended public school briefly until the death of her mother. Around 1863, she married William Talbert, and the family moved to Chicago by 1868.

In Chicago only briefly, Naomi Talbert joined the temperance work of the International Organization of the Good Templars. She was also asked to speak, albeit as the token black woman speaker, before the women's suffrage convention held at Library Hall in Chicago. This convention was called by national organizers but created the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association. Talbert's speech was covered by the Chicago Tribune, and her support of suffrage, as a black woman alongside white women, created backlash, given that the Fifteenth Amendment had not yet been ratified. On March 8, 1869, the Tribune published her letter to the editor, in which she defended her position in support of universal suffrage and responded to her critics. By 1870, she had moved to Dayton, Ohio, with her family, where she continued to attend conventions, to speak, and to write about suffrage.

In December 1877, Naomi Talbert was widowed. By the census, she had moved to Columbus with her ailing father and two sons, William and Elijah; she worked as a hairdresser. On May 17, 1881, Talbert married Lewis (sometimes Louis) Anderson. The Anderson family moved to Wichita, Kansas, following others migrating West. Once there, Naomi Anderson became involved with the movement to get the Kansas state legislature to give women the right to vote. She preached against segregation and supported temperance. Anderson also established a children's home for black children because the other home in Wichita only took white children.

In the early 1890s, the Andersons left Kansas and moved to San Francisco. Once again, Naomi Anderson picked up where she had left off and resumed the struggle for women's rights. She wrote and lectured about gender and racial equality. One headline in the San Francisco Call read: "A Colored Lady Orator: Mrs. Naomi Anderson Is to Lecture Here on Woman Suffrage." By this time, Anderson was a recognized lecturer on suffrage.

Naomi Anderson died on June 9, 1899, without seeing women finally achieve the vote. She was survived by her husband and children, Jessie, Orval, and Garland Anderson and Rhodes Talbert. Her funeral was held at Bethel M.E. Church, and she was interred at Laurel Hill Cemetery.


"A Colored Lady Orator." San Francisco Call. July 23, 1896. [LINK]

Died. Anderson. San Francisco Call. June 11, 1899.

Kansas State Census, 1885, 1895, s.v. "Naomi Anderson, Wichita Ward 1, KS." Ancestry Library.

Majors, Monroe A. "Mrs. Naomi Anderson." In Noted Negro Women: Their Triumphs and Activities, 82-87. Chicago: Donahue and Henneberry, 1893. [LINK]

"Sewing Women to Act in Concert." San Francisco Call. July 21, 1898.

Talbert, Naomi. Letter to the Editor. "Male vs. Female Suffrage." Chicago Tribune. March 8, 1869. [LINK]

Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998, 48-49.

United States Census 1850, 1860, s.v. "Naomi Bowman, Michigan City, La Porte, IN." Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1870, s.v. "Naomi Talbert, Dayton Ward 8, Montgomery, OH." Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1880, s.v. "Naomi Scott, Columbus, OH." Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1900, s.v. "Louis Anderson, San Francisco, CA." Ancestry Library.

"The Women." Chicago Tribune. February 13, 1869.

Links to Additional Biographical Sketches

Monroe Majors, Noted Negro Women


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