Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Teresa Adams, 1869-1947

By Danielle Hoskins, PhD Candidate, University of Iowa

Teresa Adams was born about 1869 in Keokuk, Iowa, to parents Thomas and Mary Ann Adams of Kentucky. While little is known about Adams's early life in Keokuk, when she moved with her sister to Davenport, Iowa in 1895, she quickly became involved in women's clubs and community affairs. She joined several girls' improvement clubs and civil rights organizations, including the Toussaint L'Ouverture Club, and became involved with the Davenport branch of the NAACP, eventually chairing its educational committee. In the 1910s, she would earn a position as a board member of the Iowa Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, where she took her passion for women's rights, heading the IFCWC's standing suffrage committee when it was established in 1914. Ms. Adams traveled frequently to Des Moines for IFCWC meetings with fellow suffrage activists like Sue M. Brown and Gertrude Rush, and throughout the state to speak on behalf of the suffrage committee at IFCWC events.

Adams moved to Chicago sometime after 1920, and died in Manteno, IL, in 1947.


"Davenport Items, Last Week," Iowa State Bystander, Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, October 10, 1919.

"Keokuk Happenings," Iowa State Bystander, Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, October 4, 1895.

"Women's Suffrage in Iowa: An Online Exhibit," Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, 2011. Accessible online at

1920 United States Federal Census. Davenport Ward 4, Scott, IA, Roll: T625_512 Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 163. [Database online]. Provo, UT:


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