Elizabeth N. V. McCoy


Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Elizabeth N.V. McCoy, 1867-1938


By Emma Hayes, Undergraduate, University of Rhode Island

Elizabeth (Lizzie) McCoy was born in Rhode Island in 1867. Lizzie married Virginian Henry V. McCoy who was born in 1863. Like many other African Americans from the South at this time, it is highly probable that Henry B. McCoy was the descendant of slaves. Henry worked as a butcher, porter, and chauffeur throughout his life in Rhode Island; Lizzie was mostly a homemaker and occasionally worked as a maid when her children were grown up. She lived with her husband and children in a rented home at 337 North Main Street in Providence. According to the 1910 census, Lizzie and Henry had five sons: Henry M., Rodman A., William E., Claude K., and Foster B. Most of her sons served in World War II.

Lizzie and Henry participated in many Providence organizations. Henry was a member of the Douglass Republican Association. Named after Frederick Douglass, the organization embraced the Republican Party, the party most likely to champion African American causes. The McCoy family also supported the American Protective League. In October 1901, a branch of the league was formed in Providence at the Congdon St Baptist Church. According to the Providence Journal, the league had about 22 branches in different states and a membership of about 100,000 people. According to the Providence Journal in 1901, the league was "formed to alleviate the conditions of various kinds under which the Negro is at present situated." Henry B. McCoy was president of the Providence American Protective League branch in 1902.

Elizabeth McCoy also had a strong faith. She attended many churches over the years, including the Congdon Street Baptist Church, and had several opportunities to participate in services. On Easter in 1912, she read the "Easterside" paper in church. McCoy also offered readings at meetings of the Westwood Elmwood Lyceum. The meeting was held in the Wadsworth St. A.M.E. Church. The discussion theme of the evening analyzed "Christianity and its Bearing Upon Modern Civilization."

At age 47, Lizzie McCoy signed the 1916 petition from the R.I. Women's Colored Club and continued to support many other social and political programs.

Lizzie McCoy passed away in Providence on November 18, 1938. Her funeral was held at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Meeting Street in Providence.

Churches have been mobilizing structures for many different movements, especially suffrage and civil rights. By forming a community around religion, members can create vast networks. McCoy signed the petition in the Congdon St. Baptist church and her membership of the R.I. Union of Colored Women's Clubs could have been due to her networking through religious organizations. McCoy's involvement in her community is an inspiring form of local activism.


Douglass, F. (2019, May 09). From the archives: Frederick Douglass on the Republican Party. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/ct-prj-archive-frederick-douglass-republican-party-20150129-story.html

The Evening Bulletin. (1902, April 15).

The Evening Bulletin. (1908, June 30).

The Evening Bulletin. (1916, July 19).

The Evening Bulletin. (1914, August 31).

The Evening Bulletin. (1912, April 8).

The American Protective League. (1900, August 15). Pawtucket Times, p. 7.

The American Protective League. Deputy Organizer in This State Explains Its Work. (1901, October 18). Pawtucket Times, p. 11.

"United States Census, 1910, 1920, 1930, "GenealogyBank
(https://genealogybank.com/#), Elizabeth Mccoy, Providence Ward 3, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.

"United States Census, 1920," GenealogyBank
(https://genealogybank.com/#), Henry B Mccoy, Providence Ward 3, Providence, Rhode Island, United States.

Resolution of the RI Union Colored Women's Clubs, Accessible online at

Providence, Rhode Island, City Directory, 1938.
Providence Journal, November 19, 1938, "Deaths".


Related Writings in Database

View works by

View works about




Back to List of Black Woman Suffragists
back to top