Louise Beatrice Braxton

Biographical Database of Black Suffragists

Biography of Louise Beatrice Braxton, 1876-1962

By Rebecca F Weinstock, undergraduate, University of Maryland

Louise Beatrice Lynch was born in 1876 in Maryland to Charles and Eliza Lynch. Her father worked as a coachman while her mother looked after the house in Baltimore's 20th ward. The family originated in Virginia before moving to Baltimore. On the census, her mother claimed mixed race heritage, while her father listed himself as black.

Braxton was married at her mother's house on June 26, 1906 to Edgar Hamilton Braxton. Her father died before her wedding, so her brother, Charles, walked her down the aisle. Edgar Braxton was from a Maryland family and was a bookkeeper when they married. He took many jobs throughout his life — including as a steward at a dock— eventually becoming a caterer for the public schools while his wife worked as a housewife and community activist. The two lived together in Baltimore at 185 George Street with Louise's family before moving to 2031 McCulloch on their own in 1920. They never had children.

Braxton was able to live a comfortable life in Baltimore. She appeared in the Baltimore Afro-American on multiple occasions for hosting bridge tournaments, especially with her niece, Ethel Waters. She was also able to spend at least one summer in Harpers Ferry along with other women of note, and held dinner parties with her husband and their friends at the Fortnightly Whist Club, an African American social club.

Most of Braxton's time was split between the Baltimore Women's Civic League, the Du Bois Circle, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Du Bois Circle was a group of women who first formed a club, in 1906 or 1907 in order to be the women's counterpart to Baltimore's Niagara Movement Club. While Braxton did not attend the group's first meeting, she joined during the second recorded meeting on March 18, 1907, where she was appointed the head of the Club Chronicle alongside Helen Irvin. The Chronicle was meant to be a weekly collection of news stories that would be of interest to the rest of the club and serve as a guide to both current events and texts by black authors. These articles then drove the direction of the club's actions. Their study of articles about school conditions, for instance, led the women to campaign for better facilities. Braxton also joined the Circle's Committee for School Improvement, looking specifically at ventilation systems to promote children's health. The DuBois Circle frequently worked with schools. They gave scholarships to women in high school in recognition of artistic ability and high class standings.

The DuBois Circle also took part in other actions that helped women in the community while Braxton was a member. The Circle supported suffrage for all adult women in Maryland and, with equal fervor, opposed efforts by some white suffragists to win limited suffrage laws for elite women only. They worked with the Maryland League of Women's Clubs in the 1940s to help with problems of youth housing and job stabilization and in 1952 donated linens to the Women's Auxiliary of the Monumental City Medical Society.

Braxton served in many roles in the DuBois Circle. She was vice-president in 1920, a member of the executive council in 1930, treasurer and host in the 1930s, delegate to the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) conference in 1931. She remained in the group until her death on February 21, 1962.

Braxton was also a member of the Baltimore Women's Cooperative Civic League, which was founded in 1914 as the black counterpart to the white Women's Civic League. One central mission of both was to improve sanitation in Baltimore. To raise funds for that cause, the group organized the first Baltimore Flower Mart — a tradition that the city still holds dear. Braxton was part of the planning committee for the 1914 Flower Mart and helped to provide refreshments as a member of the membership committee. The Women's Cooperative Civic League also supported woman suffrage.

The NAACP benefited from Braxton's involvement. She attended events in the 1910s and served as a vice-president of the national organization in 1913.


"About The City." Baltimore Afro-American. June 30, 1906. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"An Interesting Out-Door Event." Baltimore Afro-American. May 16, 1914. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Ancestryheritagequest.com. 1880 United States Federal Census [database-online]. Census Place: Baltimore 20th District, Baltimore, Maryland; page 3 Enumeration of District: 209.

Ancestryheritagequest.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database-online]. Census Place: Baltimore 17th District, Baltimore, Maryland; page 11 Enumeration of District: 282.

Ancestryheritagequest.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database-online]. Census Place: Baltimore 14th District, Baltimore, Maryland; page 11 Enumeration of District: 236.

Ancestryheritagequest.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database-online]. Census Place: Baltimore 14 District, Baltimore, Maryland; page 8 Enumeration of District: 4-211.

DuBois Circle Records. Private Collection. Soon to be in Special Collections, Morgan State University Library, Baltimore, MD.

“In The Society.” Baltimore Afro-American. June 3, 1921. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"N.A.A.C.P. Work to Be Exploited." Baltimore Afro-American. October 18, 1913. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"Other 3 -- no Title." Baltimore Afro-American. August 29, 1914. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Pat. "Pat to Pansy." Baltimore Afro-American. February 15, 1930. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

“Society Personals.” Baltimore Afro-American. March 25, 1921. Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Women's Civic League (Baltimore). Our History.
http://www.womenscivicleague.org/Womens_Civic_League/WCL_History.html. Accessed May 15, 2019.


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