Harriet "Hattie" W. Brown

Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Harriet “Hattie” W. Brown, 1875-1953

By Christian Sheffey, undergraduate student, Rosemont College, Rosemont, Penn.

Harriet "Hattie" Williams was born in Eufala, Alabama, to parents Alec and Elisa Williams in 1875. She attended public school before continuing at the Tuskegee Institute. Shortly thereafter, she taught in public schools in Jacksonville, Florida, where she met her husband, George E. Brown. By 1900, they had moved to New York City, first living in Manhattan and, later, Brooklyn.

In July 1913, Hattie Brown was part of a Brooklyn delegation that attended the fifth annual Empire State Federation of Women's Club convention. This would prove to be a historic event as the federation would, for the first time, publicly go on record in support of the woman's suffrage movement.

As a woman of deep faith, Hattie Brown joined the AME Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, where she remained a member until her death. During more than five decades with the church, Brown also wrote prolifically for the influential black publication The New York Age. She reported extensively on Brooklyn society news, church affairs, and occasionally political topics. Her name appears hundreds of times between 1910 and 1950 either in articles or as the author of columns in that newspaper.

In the late 1920s, Hattie Brown organized the AME Church's Lady Usher Board, which she served in several capacities, including superintendent and president. With her extensive background in education, she also contributed heavily to the church's Sunday school program for over fifty years by creating curriculum and teaching thousands of children. Her dedication to church and education eventually led to Brown becoming the district superintendent of the Allen Christian Endeavor League, an important educational support system for children of faith and color at the time.

With an impressive list of accomplishments to her name, Hattie Brown proved to be a valuable contributor to her church and community for more than half a century. By the 1930 census, she was listed as a widow. She died in December 26, 1953 and was buried in her adoptive home of New York City.

CAPTION: Hattie W. Brown, ca. 1940s.


CREDIT: Wright, Bishop R. R., Jr., ed. “Brown, Mrs. Hattie W.” In The Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia: 1947), p.50. HathiTrust.org.


"Age Columnist's Last Rites Held." New York Age (New York, NY), Jan. 9, 1954. Newspapers.com.

Brown, Hattie W. "Brooklyn Social Notes." New York Age (New York, NY), May 7, 1938; May 25, 1940; July 3, 1948; and others. Newspapers.com.

Brown, Hattie W. "$9,465 Raised at New York State Conference of AME Church in 115th Annual Session in Albany." New York Age (New York, NY), May 29, 1937. Newspapers.com.

New York, NY, Death Index, 1949-1969, Hattie Brown, Dec. 26, 1953, Brooklyn, NY. Ancestry Library Ed.

United States Census 1880, s.v. "Hattie Williams, Eufaula, AL." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1900, "Hattie Brown, Manhattan, New York, NY." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1910, 1920, 1930, s.v. "Harriet/Hattie Brown, Brooklyn, New York, NY." HeritageQuest.

Wright, Bishop R. R., Jr., ed. "Brown, Mrs. Hattie W." In The Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Book Concern of the AME Church, 1947), p.50. HathiTrust.org.


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