Ida Alexander Gibbs Hunt

Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Ida Alexander Gibbs Hunt, 1862-1957

By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian

African American suffragist, author, and orator, Ida Alexander Gibbs was born on November 16, 1862, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her parents Mifflin Wistar and Maria Ann (Alexander) Gibbs had at least six children. Mifflin Gibbs, born in 1823 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, worked as a judge as well as U.S. consulate to Madagascar from 1897 to 1901. He was a Republican in politics. Both parents were well-educated; Gibbs's mother had attended Oberlin College. Additionally, her parents were friends of abolitionist and suffrage supporter Frederick Douglass.

By 1870 the Gibbs family had moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where Ida Gibbs attained an education in the public schools. In 1884, having majored in English, she graduated from Oberlin College, with a four-year "'gentlemen's course'" that included "history, philosophy, government, economics, laboratory sciences, higher mathematics, French and German, Latin and Greek." While attending college, Gibbs befriended Mary Church Terrell and Anna Julia Cooper, prominent African American women who also supported woman's suffrage and racial equality. Following Gibbs's graduation from Oberlin, she taught English at M Street High School (Dunbar High School after 1916), in Washington, D.C.

On April 12, 1904, Ida Alexander Gibbs married William Henry Hunt in Washington, D.C. Hunt was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 29, 1869. He attended Lawrence Academy and Williams College in Massachusetts. Hunt worked as an aide for his father-in-law while Mifflin Gibbs served as consulate. The Hunts had no children. When Mifflin Gibbs retired as consulate, Hunt garnered the position. From 1904 to 1932 the Hunts lived overseas at various posts.

Prior to her marriage, Ida Gibbs supported women's suffrage. The earliest extant account of her participation in the suffrage movement occurred in February 1895. In her essay entitled "Recollections of Frederick Douglass," Gibbs states that she and Mary Church Terrell attended the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C. Susan B. Anthony, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and Frederick Douglass were in attendance. Gibbs claimed that she and Terrell "believed that women needed the ballot to correct many of the injustices to which women of that day were subjected."

While William Henry Hunt served as consulate, the Hunts traveled widely and lived in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, West Indies, France, the Azores, and Liberia. While living in St.-Ḗtienne, France, the French suffrage organization known as the Union Francaise pour le Suffrage des Femmes asked Ida Hunt to join their meetings that convened nearby. In the fall of 1922 while visiting in Washington, D.C., she presented a lecture entitled "The Women of France," that discussed the improved status of French women due to their significant contributions during World War I. She remarked that despite this recognition, French women remained disfranchised. Later, Ida Hunt retitled her speech to "The New Sphere of Women," in which she highlighted the advanced status of American women. However, she noted the inequity of wages and stated that "Equal pay for equal work is the growing demand." In 1929, Hunt continued to deliver speeches. She gave a talk entitled "Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Woman Suffrage Movement" at a memorial program celebrating Stowe as an abolitionist at New York University.

In addition to her suffrage work, Ida Gibbs Hunt was a charter member of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), organized in 1896. Mary Church Terrell served as the organization's first president. In 1905, Hunt sponsored the newly organized Young Christian Women's Association (YWCA) for African Americans in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Bethel Literary Society, she presented papers at their meetings. She also participated in the Niagara Movement, the Red Cross, the NAACP, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Adele Logan Alexander, Research Professor of George Washington University and family historian of the Gibbs and Hunt families, states that Ida Gibbs Hunt's sojourns with her husband expanded her view of racial injustice on a global scale. Like her friends Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell with whom she associated, Hunt utilized her education and position as a wife of a prominent man to work for the betterment of her race on an international level. She worked with W. E. B. DuBois during the first Pan African Congress held in 1919 in Paris and the second Pan African Congress held two years later. Between the biennial conferences she helped to retain interest in the cause. At the third congress held in London in 1923, Hunt, DuBois, and Rayford Logan served as an executive triumvirate. At that convention Hunt presented a paper entitled "The Coloured Races and the League of Nations." Although she did not attend the fourth Pan African Congress held in Harlem, New York, Hunt gave financial support.

Before Hunt's death on December 19, 1957, she actively worked to improve the status of women and the African American race worldwide. Her husband died on December 19, 1951. Both died in Washington, D.C. and are buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.


Adele Logan Alexander, Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)Significance of Melanin (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2010).

Cayton's Weekly (Seattle, WA), April 19, 1919.

Colored American (Washington, D.C.), February 2, 1901, and April 16, 1904.

Clarence G. Contee, "DuBois, the NAACP, and Pan-African Congress of 1919," Journal of Negro History 57, no. 1 (January 1972): 13-28. (Accessed on August 30, 2021, at]

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), December 29, 1894; March 31 and June 23, 1897; May 1 and October 9, 1899; December 9, 1905; January 13 and 20, 1916; December 21, 1951.

Ida Gibbs Hunt, "Recollections of Frederick Douglass," Negro History Bulletin 16, no. 9 (June 1953): 202-203. [Accessed on August 30, 2021, at https://www/]

Ida Gibbs Hunt, "The Price of Peace," Journal of Negro History 23, no. 1 (January 1938): 79-86. [Accessed on August 30, 2021, at]

Sametta Wallace Jackson, "Mifflin Wistar Gibbs," Negro History Bulletin 4, no. 8 (May 1941): 175-176. [Accessed on August 30, 2021, at]

St. Louis (MO) Globe-Democrat, March 30, 1904.

Mary Church Terrell, "I Remember Frederick Douglas," Ebony 8, no. 12 (October 1953): 72-77, 78-80.

U.S. Census, 1870 and 1880, Oberlin, Lorain Co., Ohio.

U.S. Census, 1900, Washington, District of Columbia.

U.S. Census, 1930, Azores, Spain.

U.S. Census, 1940, Washington, District of Columbia.

U.S., Find A Grave, 1600s-Current for Maria Ann Gibbs (1826-1904), Mifflin Wistar Gibbs (1823-1915), Ida Alexander (Gibbs) Hunt (1862-1957), and William Henry Hunt (1869-1951).

Washington, D.C., U.S. Compiled Marriage Index, 1830-1921, for Ida A. Gibbs and William H. Hunt.

Washington Times (Washington, D.C.), June 5, 1895.

C. G. Woodson, "The Gibbs Family," Negro History Bulletin 2, no. 1 (October 1947): 3-12 and 22. [Accessed on August 31, 2021, at]

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