Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Indiana T. Little, 1897-1970


By Briana Adline Royster, graduate student, New York University

Indiana Tuggle was born in Wyatt, Georgia on April 15, 1897 to George and Harriet Tuggle. George and Harriet both worked as farm laborers in Georgia. Indiana was the eighth of nine children. In 1918 she married Terrell Little, ten years her senior, and had two daughters, Lessie and Elease, prior to leaving Georgia for Alabama in 1923.

In 1923, Indiana Little moved to Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and two children. Her husband Terrell worked as riveter in a foundry according to the 1930 census. Indiana was listed without an occupation that year. Indiana could read and write; her husband could not. They rented the home they lived in. Both girls attended school and 11-year-old Lessie could read and write.

The couple and their older daughter continued to live together in Birmingham in 1940. Her husband worked as a laborer and she as a maid. Lessie was now 22 years old, married, and the mother of a 3-year-old; also employed as a maid. Terrell was recorded as having gone to school through the first grade, Indiana through the seventh grade, and Lessie was a high school graduate. Her husband earned $1000 annually and the family continued to rent their place.

She quickly immersed herself in Birmingham's African American community and some considered her a prominent and well-respected member in the area. Even with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, white officials in Birmingham still did not allow local African American citizens to vote. So, on the morning of January 18, 1926, Indiana Little led a march of African American men and women to the registrar's office. The reported numbers of those involved in the march ranged from hundreds to a thousand. While at the registrar's office, Little reportedly stated, "I am a free-born citizen of America and by the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution I shall not be denied the right to vote because of race, color, or sex, and I will not move until I have been registered." City officials did not allow Little and her followers to register to vote at that time. Moreover, officials arrested and beat Little for her efforts. In a sworn affidavit to the Department of Justice, Little indicated that she had been sexually assaulted. Local, state, and national newspapers, such as The Pittsburgh Courier and The Chicago Defender, covered the march and expressed outrage at Little's arrest. Little's march also sparked other marches in Birmingham in subsequent years, and newspapers continued to reference Little's march through 1930.

Little remained in Birmingham and finally voted in 1957. She also remained an active voice in her community and church as the president of the Missionary Society, a Sunday school teacher, and the Training Union teacher at the Twenty-Third Street Baptist Church until her death on September 22, 1970.


1900 United States Federal Census
1930 United States Federal Census
1940 United States Federal Census

“Asks Ballots in Alabama; Get Beating,” Chicago Defender (Chicago, Illinois), January 30, 1926.

“Birmingham Woman Held in Registration Dispute; Dept. of Justice on Hand,” Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), January 30, 1926.

“Negroes Continuing Registration Fight,” Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), January 20, 1926.

“Indiana and Ohio,” Dothan Daily Eagle (Dothan, Alabama), February 5, 1926. The Birmingham News. January 26, 1930

“Indiana Little,” The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama), September 24, 1970. Archives Department. Birmingham Public Library.

Joseph M. Brittain, “Some Reflections on Negro Suffrage and Politics in Alabama – Past and Present,” Journal of Negro History 47, no. 2 (April 1962): 127-138.

Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

Liette Gidlow, "After the 'Century of Struggle': The Nineteenth Amendment, Southern African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disenfranchisement after 1920," pp. 75-90 in Stacie Taranto and Leandra Zarnow, eds., Suffrage at 100: Women in American Politics since 1920 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2020).

Liette Gidlow, "Resistance after Ratification: The Nineteenth Amendment, African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disfranchisement after 1920," online in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (2017).


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