Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, 1855-1944

By Feride Barlas-Howell, student
Harry S Truman College - City College of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


Elizabeth Lindsay Davis was born in 1855 in Peoria, Illinois. Elizabeth's parents were Thomas H. Lindsay and Sophia Jane Lindsay and she was the eldest daughter. Elizabeth's father was Peoria's first African American market master. Furthermore, her father was a immense activist for African Americans in Peoria. Elizabeth attended a small one room school for colored children in Peoria. At ten years old her parents sent her to integrated school Bureau Country High School in Princeton, Illinois, she graduated in 1873. After graduation, she immediately entered her profession of teaching. She taught in several places that included Quincy, Illinois; New Albany, Indiana; Keokuk, Iowa; and Louisville, Kentucky. Elizabeth successfully taught until 1885 and married Dr. William H. Davis and moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1892 and settled there. She died in Chicago, Illinois in 1944.

Elizabeth Lindsay Davis was famously a local, state and national leader. In her lifetime she was an activist, teacher, state and national organizer for the national Association of Colored Women (NACW), state President of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (IFCWC), and a historian for the IFCWC and NACW. In March 1896 Elizabeth Lindsay Davis organized the Chicago chapter of the Phyliss Wheatley Women's Club, that she served as President for 29 years. The purpose of the club was to improve the conditions for African American women in areas of temporary housing, education, and other provisions needed for better lives. Elizabeth also served as a charter member of the National Association of Colored Women in Washington, D.C. From 1901 to 1906 and from 1912 to 1916 she served as the national organizer and she served as state organizer for 6 years. Moreover, Elizabeth founded the Phyllis Wheatley Home for Girls in 1908 that she served as its first President. Throughout her career she helped form dozens of women's club in cities all over Illinois and formed the Peoria Negro Women's Aid Club. She also belonged to the Chicago Forum League of Women Voters, Women's City Club and Giles Charity Club. Elizabeth was a member of St. Marks M.E. Church and was active in many social affairs. Throughout her career Elizabeth fought tirelessly for the rights of African Americans and for the women's right to vote. She worked in the state council of national defense during the World War.

Elizabeth Lindsay Davis was the author of numerous speeches, books, magazines, and articles. She became a National Historian and wrote plentiful chronicles on African American history. Elizabeth extensively traveled throughout the United States and speaking before churches, clubs and other organizations. In 1922, Elizabeth published The Story of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs [LINK]. The book covered the period from 1900 to 1922 and highlighted the history of the state of Illinois women's organizations that became a valuable resource to many women in Illinois. She wrote this important story so that the younger generation of black women would appreciate the sacrifices that were made for them and "be inspired to carry on". Finally, in 1933 Elizabeth published her most famous book, Lifting as They Climb, [LINK] a history of the National Association of Colored Women.


Biographical Sketch found in Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, LIFTING AS THEY CLIMB found in this database--[LINK], pp. 203-05

For a photograph of Lindsay, link

For a Wikipedia sketch, see


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Who's Who in Colored America

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