Eliza Pearl Shippen


Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Eliza Pearl Shippen, 1888-1981


By Makenzie Hymes, student at George C. Marshall High School, Falls Church, VA

Eliza Pearl Shippen was a founder of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Howard University in 1913. Born in Washington, D.C on February 2, 1888, Shippen spent most of her life in the nation's capital. Shippen graduated from M Street High School in 1904. Two years later she graduated first in her class at the Miner Normal School, later known as Miner Teachers College. Her education continued as she attended Howard University where she graduated magna cum laude in 1912. At Howard, Shippen was involved with the Teachers Club. She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Shortly after her graduation, Shippen joined 21 other like-minded women in founding the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in January 1913. Delta Sigma Theta's goal of contributing to social change is evident in their joining the 1913 Suffrage Parade in which Shippen participated. The sorority was chaperoned by Howard University Professor T.M Gregory.

Shippen attended Teachers College of Columbia University and in 1928 earned a master's degree in Education. Shippen later attended the University of Pennsylvania and in 1944 earned a doctorate degree in English Literature. Shippen later became the Dean of Women and professor of English at her former school, Miner Teachers College, until her retirement in 1954.

Shippen moved to a nursing home in Hyattsville, MD in the late 1970's and passed away there in May 1981.

Decades after her passing Shippen was among the Delta Sigma Theta founders honored in 2013 by the United States Senate with a resolution commending the sorority on their century of progress in the Black community, including their efforts in the suffrage movement.


Sherrod Brown. Congressional Record, Volume 159, Issue 9 , 24 Jan. 2013,; Accessed online at www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-2013-01-24/html/CREC-2013-01-24-pt1-PgS292.htm.

"Eliza Shippen, 93, Professor at D.C. Teachers College, Dies." The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 May 1981; accessed online at www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1981/05/21/eliza-shippen-93-professor-at-dc-teachers-college-dies/b3f8576f-29af-4221-bb3f-df73340e05cb/.

"Founders Florence Letcher Toms and Eliza Shippen Attend Event Honoring Patricia Roberts Harris ." The Pittsburgh Courier, 14 Aug. 1965, p 6.

Sarah Gordon and Pamela Walker, "'Girls in Caps and Gowns': The Deltas March for Suffrage," Women at the Center, New York Historical Society Museum & Library, 26 Aug. 2020,. Accessed online at womenatthecenter.nyhistory.org/girls-in-caps-and-gowns-the-deltas-march-for-suffrage/.

Paula Giddings, In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement. (New York: Amistad, 2006).

Gregory S. Parks and Marcia Hernandez, "Fortitude in the Face of Adversity: Delta Sigma Theta's History of Racial Uplift," 13 Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 273 (2016).

H, Rene. "Eliza Pearl Shippen." Women's Activism NYC, 8 Dec. 2020, www.womensactivism.nyc/stories/8000.

Carrie W. Clifford, untitled article on the March 1913 suffrage parade, The Crisis, 5:6 (April 1913), p. 296.

Pauline S. Hill, Too Young to Be Old: The Story of Bertha Pitts Campbell (Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2008. Earlier edition published, 1981), p. 61.

"Howard Participates in the Suffragette and Inaugural Parades," Howard University Journal, Volume 10, Issue 21 (March 14, 1913), p. 1, accessed online at https://dh.howard.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=huj_v10.


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