Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Eva F. Ross, 1877-?


Research by Karl Gage, Emilia Fries, Kailyn Wells, students, University of Michigan, Dearborn; written by Thomas Dublin

Eva F. Ross was born in the District of Columbia about 1877. Her father is unknown, but she resided with her widowed mother, Mary E. Ross, on Vermont Ave. in both 1900 and 1920. At the earlier date, she was recorded as a student also living with her sisters, Virginia and Ella (Eula). A real estate transfer noted in the Washington Evening Star of July 9, 1905, showed that Eula and Eva purchased lot 12 at 1945 Vermont Avenue, NW. She married William L. Board in December 1916, and the couple lived with her mother, her widowed sister, Eula Gray, and her 10-year-old niece, Katherine Gray. In 1920 her husband worked as a pharmacist; Eva was employed as a teacher. In 1919, while living in the Ross home, William Board purchased a lot at 1320 Q Street, where the couple resided at the time of the 1940 federal census. In 1940, now 61 and 63 respectively, both were working as druggists. They were said to have each completed four years of college, and had no children living with them in either 1920 or 1940.

William Board was born in Virginia in 1877 and graduated from Wilberforce University and then from the Medical Department at Howard University in 1903, where he studied Pharmacy. One of his fellow Pharmacy graduates that year was Amanda V. Gray, also a suffrage marcher in March 1913. He served as secretary of the Wilberforcian Society, a group of alumni who raised funds to support the Methodist university in Ohio. He was also active in the Bethel Literary and Historical Association in D.C. In February 1906 he helped observe “Douglass Day” at a banquet honoring Frederick Douglass, sponsored by the Pen and Pencil Club, where he joined Booker T. Washington, Kelley Miller, and Archibald H. Grimke in responding to toasts.

Numerous articles in Washington, D.C. newspapers make it possible to reconstruct a good number of Eva Ross's activities. In July 1901 Fredrica Sprague and Eva Ross attended a summer course in Chautauqua, N.Y. Sprague was the granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and the daughter of Nathaniel and Rosetta Douglass Sprague, both woman suffrage petition signers in 1877. In May 1904, Ross was one of 7 women among 60 Howard graduates who received diplomas from the Medical Department. Hers was a degree in pharmacy, while degrees in medicine and dentistry predominated that year. In 1906, Ross spoke at a Howard Alumni Dinner; her topic was “Disease a Violation of Law.” In addition to her pharmacy training, Eva was recorded in 1906 as a certified teacher by the DC Board of Education in August 1906.

Ross enjoyed an active social life in these years. In a story recorded under the headline, “Elite Column,” we learn that Dr. Eva Ross took part in a whist party at the home of Blanch L. Wright.. Also among the guests that evening was Dr. Amanda Gray, who marched with Dr. Ross in the NAWSA suffrage parade in March 1913. In October 1910 the Saturday Evening Whist Club met at her home and she was elected secretary.

Eva Ross participated in the NAWSA suffragist parade in D.C. on March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration. The story in The Crisis listed both Dr. Eva Ross and Dr. Amanda Gray.

After her marriage in 1916, I found only a single newspaper reference in District newspapers. In April 1921 Eva Board joined a drive headed by Mary Church Terrill (also a woman suffrage supporter) in raising funds to employ African American visiting nurses in the District. Eva served as a group leader in the campaign, working with five assistants in the fundraising.


“Suffrage Paraders,” The Crisis, April 1913, p. 296.

Federal manuscript censuses for the District of Columbia, 1900-1940, for the households of Mary E. Ross, William and Eva Board, and Nathaniel and Rosetta Sprague. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

Newspaper stories in The Colored American, Washington Evening Star, Washington Times, Washington Post, Washington Bee, and National Forum, 1901-1921, searching for Eva F. Ross, Eva Board, and William L. Board in the indexes of D.C. newspapers, 1900-1940 via


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