Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Maria A. Tyson, 1876-1916

By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian

New York African American suffragist Maria A. Tyson, the daughter of William A. and Emily (Frazier) Tyson was born in the Bronx, New York City, circa 1876. She graduated from the Conservatory of Music of New York. In the 1910 federal census she is a boarder in the John A. Skinner family household. At that time, she was a music teacher. Maria Tyson appears as "Miss M. A. Tyson" and erroneously as "Mrs. M. A. Tyson" in public records. She never married.

The earliest reference to her being active in the women's suffrage movement occurred in July 1913. As delegates, she and her friend Maria C. Lawton attended the fifth annual meeting of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs (colored) that convened in Buffalo, New York. As reported in the New York Age newspaper dated July 10, 1913, "[t]he federation placed itself on record as being in favor of Woman's Suffrage, as being opposed to the use of tobacco, smoking, etc., by our women and the use of chewing gum in public places, especially by girls." The Phyllis Wheatley Club in Buffalo hosted the delegates. One year later the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs met in Brooklyn, New York. At the July 1914 convention Tyson is listed as serving on the industrial committee of the state federation. Additionally, her obituary indicated that she also served on the press committee.

In November 1913 Maria Tyson gave a five-dollar donation to the building fund of the Colored YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) and YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). Organizers planned to construct a building for the YWCA costing one hundred thousand dollars and a building for the YMCA costing $150,000.

Maria Tyson served as organist at the Epworth M. E. Church in the Bronx. She was secretary of the M. C. Lawton Empty Stocking Circle from its inception. Forty-year-old Tyson died on January 25, 1916, in the Bronx. Maria C. Lawton, who served in various positions in the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs (colored), gave a eulogy at Tyson's funeral.

Sources: Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), July 2, 1914. New York Age (New York City), July 10 and November 27, 1913; March 26, 1914; and February 10, 1916. New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,

accessed on FamilySearch on July 17, 2021. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948, accessed on on July 17, 2021. Standard Union (Brooklyn, NY), July 2, 1914. U.S. Census, 1910, Bronx, New York, New York.


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