Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Ida Joyce Jackson, 1863-1927

By Noah Lopez, undergraduate student, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Ida May Joyce was born in Columbus, Ohio, on March 28, 1863, to James Wiley and Kate (Roney) Joyce, a barber and a homemaker. Ida Joyce was the eldest of their four children and the sister of Beatrice, Nettie, and James. At an early age, her passion for education blossomed. She graduated from Columbus Central High School in 1882. Moving to Frankfort, Kentucky, she served as a teaching assistant in public high schools from 1885 until 1888, and she worked as an instructor at the State Normal School for Colored Persons (SNSCP), now Kentucky State University, until 1898.

At SNSCP, she met John Henry Jackson, the school's first president and her eventual husband. His parents were formerly enslaved in Kentucky. He was the first black graduate of Berea College, an educator, and a political and social activist, whose efforts mirrored his wife's. He was also a suffragist, who acted as Ida Jackson's companion and ally throughout their marriage. The couple married on July 17, 1889, and had a son, Earl Roney, in 1894, who passed away in 1905.

Ida Jackson's exposure to the education system's racial and gender-based inequalities initiated her career as a suffragist. In 1889, she formed the National Reading Circle, a charter club of the Kentucky Association of Women's Clubs, and she represented Kentucky at the 1895 Atlanta Congress of Colored Women, where she successfully submitted a resolution to make this congress a permanent body. The Jacksons moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1898, after John accepted an offer to become president of the Lincoln Institute, an educational institution that recruited black students from across the state to live on its campus and obtain a high school education. Her husband's accomplishments did not overshadow her own, however. At the institute, she worked alongside other suffragists, such as Josephine Silone Yates and Libbie C. Anthony, to devise solutions to issues that plagued African Americans. It is likely that Ida Jackson shared knowledge with and received assistance from these women and many others who spent time at the institute. Additionally, she helped establish and was elected secretary of the Missouri Association of Colored Women's Clubs in 1900. A year later, the Jacksons moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Ida Jackson helped create and became president of the Federation of Colored Women's Clubs of Colorado, before assuming various national leadership roles with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs in 1906.

In 1910, the Jacksons retired to Columbus, Ohio, where Ida Jackson spent her later years as an active leader in her church. She acted as president of the Woman's Guild of St. Phillip's Church, committed herself to charity, and assisted her local community. In her free time, she enjoyed singing and critiquing music. In 1919, she became a widow. Ida Joyce Jackson died on January 19, 1927, in Columbus. Her legacy teaches us that many suffragists engaged with multiple causes and interests, relying on networking and interpersonal relationships with others to refine their ideas and garner support.


A'Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), 77.

"Appendix to Senate and House Journals of the Forty-First General Assembly of the State of Missouri," Senate and House Journals (Jefferson City: Tribune Printing Company, State Printers and Binders, 1901), 27, Google Books.

Find a Grave, Ida Joyce Jackson, March 29, 2011,

Frank Lincoln Mather, ed., "Jackson, Ida Joyce," in Who's Who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent, p.150 (Chicago, 1915).

Gary R. Kremer and Cindy M. Mackey, "‘Yours for The Race': The Life and Work of Josephine Silone Yates," Missouri Historical Review 90, no. 2 (1996): 199-215.

Karen Cotton McDaniel, "Ida Joyce Jackson," in The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, edited by Gerald L. Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel, and John A. Hardin, pp.269-70, (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

Karen Cotton McDaniel, "Local Women: The Public Lives of Black Middle Class Women in Kentucky Before the ‘Modern Civil Rights Movement'" (PhD diss., University of Kentucky, 2013), 64, 129, 161.

United States Census 1870, 1880, s.v. "Ida Joyce, Columbus, Franklin, OH," Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1900, s.v. "Ida J. Jackson, Jefferson, Cole, MO," Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1910, s.v. "Ida J. Jackson, Crutchers School House, Franklin, KY," Ancestry Library.

United States Census 1920, s.v. "Ida J. Jackson, Columbus, Franklin, OH," Ancestry Library.

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