Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Josephine B. Long, 1880-1957


By Jillian Battye and Emma Hayes, Undergraduates, University of Rhode Island

Josephine B. Long of Providence, Rhode Island, was the long-time treasurer of the RI Union of Colored Women's Clubs. Josephine B. Lewis was born in Virginia in 1880 and was a dressmaker. In 1908, she married George Washington Long who was also from Virginia and worked as a porter and became a Deacon. She and her husband were part of the Great Migration of Black southerners who settled in Providence during the early 20th century. Her involvement in her church and the R.I. Union Women's Clubs is evidence that she mobilized with other women to share resources about social causes that were important to them. In 1911, Deacon George W. Long and Mrs. Josephine Long spearheaded the annual banquet and fair held at their own Ebenezer Baptist Church in Providence. After the 1916 R.I. Union Women's Club held its annual conference at the Congdon St. Baptist Church, she signed a woman suffrage resolution.

In 1920, at the 17th Annual Conference of the R.I. Union of Colored Women in Newport, she heard national suffragist leader Mary Church Terrell speak. Terrelll is well known for her work in anti-lynching campaigns and her collaborations with Ida B. Wells. In a biography from the National Women's History Museum it states, "Terrell's life work focused on the notion of racial uplift, the belief that blacks would help end racial discrimination by advancing themselves and other members of the race through education, work, and community activism."

It is especially interesting to know that Terrell spoke to the R.I. women's club because most of the women who signed the 1916 resolution, including Josephine Long, were very involved in their community. It appears many of these women were deeply involved in their local neighborhoods. It can be assumed Mrs. Josephine Long bonded with the other women through their faith and community involvement.

Josephine and George Long lived for many years in a home they owned at 101 Benedict Street. George passed in 1949, leaving the home and other properties to Josephine, his sole survivor, as they had no children. His funeral was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he had worshipped and served as a deacon for almost fifty years. Josephine B. Long passed away in December of 1957 while visiting relatives in West Virginia. Her funeral was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, again demonstrating her important ties to her Church and community. They are buried together at Locust Grove Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.


Providence Journal, Sept. 25, 1922, p. 8, "Large Congregation Attends Installation of New Pastor for Colored Baptist Church."

Providence Journal, October 13, 1920, p. 4, "Colored Women's Clubs of State Meet at Newport"

Providence Journal, Nov. 23, 1911, p. 13, "Seven Tribes Hold Fair - People of Ebenezer Baptist Church also Have Banquet."

Providence Journal, December 22, 1949, p. 19, "George W. Long" obituary.

Providence Journal, January 4, 1958, p. 18, "Long" death notice.

"History of Ebenezer Baptist Church,", "Josephine B. Long," 1910, 1920, and 1930 U.S. Federal Census.

Resolution of the R.I. Union Colored Women's Clubs Supporting the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment; 1916.


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