Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists
Biography of Eugenia V. Heathman, 1875-1928
By Fatine Oliveira and Kristin Lafferty, undergraduates, University of Rhode Island
Born in 1875, Eugenia V. Mitchell was originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She lived for many years in Rhode Island at 169 Lippitt Street, Providence, and later 12 Belair Ave in Providence. Eugenia owned other buildings and properties in Providence as well. She married widower William Aaron Heathman on June 23, 1901. In a Colored American profile on her husband just after their marriage, Eugenia Mitchell was described as "one of the leading ladies of Jacksonville, Florida." Eugenia was a stepmother to Joseph William Heathman, who was born in 1899. Joseph later moved to Boston, MA. He served in the navy in WWI.
In 1898, William Heathman was the first African American lawyer in the state of Rhode Island. He was involved in various causes related to suffrage and political equality for African Americans. He was a founding member of the Providence NAACP Chapter. In 1903, he was an officer involved in a suffrage convention of colored men from New England, discussing the "political salvation of the southern negro." William Heathman practiced law until his retirement in 1964. As a tribute to his social justice work, the University of Rhode Island named its first co-ed dormitory after him in 1969, a year after his death.
Eugenia Heathman was politically active in women's rights. In addition to her participation in the R.I Union Colored Women's Clubs, Heathman signed a resolution of the Union in support of the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment in Providence at the Congdon Street Baptist Church in 1916. The document called upon the US Representatives and Senators to ratify an amendment to grant women suffrage as other leading countries in the world already had. In 1918, she attended a meeting of the Northeastern Federation of Women's Clubs in Hartford. In 1922, she was invited to join the city committee of Providence League of Women Voters. Heathman provided help with various events for the League, including a suffrage bazaar in 1923 to benefit the Rhode Island Woman's Party. Heathman went on to become the chairman of the registration committee of the Julia Ward Howe Republican Club, and urged members to vote in an upcoming school committee election in 1925. Heathman was also a delegate to the city convention to nominate a State Senator in 1926. After years of political representation and advancement for all women, Eugenia Heathman died an early death on November 1, 1928 at the age of 57.
Ancestry.com. Rhode Island, Marriage Index, 1851-1920 [database on-line].
Ancestry.com. Rhode Island, State Censuses, 1865-1935 [database on-line].
Ancestry.com. Rhode Island, U.S., Death Index, 1630-1930 [database on-line].
"For Suffrage: Colored Men Gather in Convention." Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922), Mar 31 1903, p. 7.
"City Hall Records," Providence Journal, 18 Oct. 1923, p. 5.
"Julia Ward Howe Club Committee Favors Bill," Providence Journal, Three Star ed., 21 Apr. 1925, p. 18.
"Regulars Victors in G.O.P Caucuses," Providence Journal, Three Star ed., 23 Sept. 1926, p.5.
"Women's Political Club," Providence Journal, 17 June 1923, p. 52.
"League Urges Abolishing Property Qualifications: Providence Women Voters Adopt Resolution at Meeting," Providence Journal, 8 Feb. 1922, p. 4.
"News Notes: Providence, RI," New York Age, 14 Sept. 1918, p. 7.
Resolution of the R.I. Union Colored Women's Clubs Supporting the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment; 1916. https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/suffrage-ri-union
"Rhode Island's First Black Lawyer: William A. Heathman, 1872-1968."—See https://riblackheritagesociety.wildapricot.org/Civil-Rights-Timeline
"The Only Colored Barrister. Mr. Wm. A. Heathman Who Alone Represents the Afro-Americans in Providence." Colored American, vol. 9, no. 16, 20 July 1901, p. 3.
Year: 1910; Census Place: Providence Ward 2, Providence, Rhode Island; Roll: T624_1441; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0159; FHL microfilm: 1375454
Related Writings in Database