Mary Mossell Griffin



Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists
Biography of Mary Campbell Mossell Griffin, 1885–1968


By Yesenia Ortiz, undergraduate student, Harvard College

Chairman of the Legislative Department of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), Chairwoman of the Suffrage Department of the Northeastern Federation of Woman's Clubs, President of the Harriet Tubman Association, President of the Sojourner Truth Suffrage League

Mary (Mazie) Campbell Mossell was born in Philadelphia, on October 10, 1885. Her father was Dr. Nathan F. Mossell and her mother Gertrude E.H. Mossell, both of whom carried notable accomplishments. Her father was the first black graduate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Her mother Gertrude was a teacher and journalist. She published several of her pieces however, under her husband’s name. In 1909, Mary Campbell married Dr. J.R. Griffin Jr. and had one child with him, Francis Raleigh.

While Mary Campbell did teach kindergarten for a year, she continued to work as a journalist. She was featured in several prominent black newspapers, such as the Philadelphia Tribune, Philadelphia Courant, Washington Sun, and the Chicago Defender. In addition to her journalistic work, she also published a text titled “Afro-American Men and Women Who Count” in 1915. Much of her prominence as a political figure came from her establishment and involvement in different organizations. Her organizational efforts were always linked to racial justice and advocacy for the rights of women.

Mary Campbell founded the Phillis Wheatley Literary Society in hopes of encouraging young black women to pursue writing. She was also the chairman of the Legislative Department of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), and the Chairwoman of the Suffrage Department of the Northeastern Federation of Woman's Clubs. When she held the first position, she gained notoriety for her proposed Anti-Lynch Bill in the 1920’s. In the latter position, she was successful in campaigning for black clerks to be employed in the open air Philadelphia market in 1934. Mrs. Campbell was also noted for her work in raising funds to support the continued higher education of several students in 1958. Mary Campbell was also the president of the Harriet Tubman Association, and the Sojourner Truth Suffrage League.

Mary Campbell Mossell Griffin passed on June 5, 1968, after having moved to Richmond, Virginia due to her health.


"City Federated Women Aid Seven Collegians." Philadelphia Tribune, Jul 12 1958, p. 5.

Fry, Jennifer Reed. "Griffin, Mary (Mazie) Campbell Mossell." African American National Biography . Ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Oxford African American Studies Center. Accessed online at

Mather, Frank Lincoln. "Mary Campbell Mossell Griffin." Who's Who of the Colored Race. A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent.

Papers of the NAACP, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frame 671). LINK to WASM document,

"Penn Biographies." Nathan Francis Mossell (1856-1946), University of Pennsylvania University Archives. University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center, n.d. Accessed online at

"Women Win Victory," Pittsburgh Courier, 27 Oct. 1934, p. 6.


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