Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biography of Bertha K Hurst, 1875- ?

By Clara Sodon, Student, Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington

Bertha K. Hurst (sometimes rendered K. Bertha Hurst) was born around 1875 in South Carolina. She completed two years of high school, and in 1890, she married Haitian immigrant John Hurst, ten years her senior and an active member and minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Like John, Bertha was an avid supporter of the AME Church, and dedicated over 50 years of her life to her missionary and civic duties and to serving the women of her community.

In 1912, Bertha and her husband traveled to Florida, where John served in the DeLand AME Church. Bertha's missionary work was rooted in her involvement with the Parent Woman's Mite Missionary Society. Ms. Hurst served as a delegate to the society at their 4th, 5th, and 6th quadrennial conventions. From 1927 to 1939 Bertha served as the Treasurer of this organization. In a 1931 missionary meeting of the AME church, Hurst announced that the organization had raised $107,975.18 for missionary work over the past four years, a testament to her dedication to the cause.

However, Hurst's leadership spread beyond the church. In 1914 Bertha traveled to Washington DC to attend the meeting of the Current Topics Club. Bertha attended the 1915 annual convention of the Women's Co-operative Civic League where she was elected treasurer. In May 1917, Ms. Hurst presided over a Women's Patriotic League meeting at the John Wesley ME Church. She was active in Black women's organized support for the war effort. In 1924, Hurst started a study club to enable women to learn about international issues through the International Council of Women of the Darker Races (ICWDR). In 1931, Bertha was appointed to the board of managers of the Maryland Training School for Colored Girls.

Often times Bertha's civic and religious work overlapped. Bertha was known to stand up in church and voice her opinion, even in the presence of wealthy, white people. Charles E. Stump quotes Ms. Hurst as claiming "I speak to you today as a woman, and my color has nothing to do with it. The greatest being on Earth is a woman, and there is no higher title than that of mother.... The mother should strive to make home happy and bring up her children properly. Teach them the doctrine of work. Teach them if they would wear fine clothes they must earn them." Bertha regarded her position as the Bishop's wife as a position of service, and consequently was highly regarded by the women who knew her for her humble willingness to serve. In 1928 Hurst gave the principal address at the Mt. Olive Church session of Methodist women. In 1934, Bertha was asked to be the guest speaker at Bethel AME Church in observance of Women's Day, explaining how women can aid Christianity.

The 1930 census recorded the couple living in Baltimore with one roomer. John Hurst was listed as a Methodist preacher. In May 1930 her husband passed away leaving Bertha Hurst a widow. In 1933, Bertha, her son Dr. Benoni Price Hurst, and her ten-year-old grandson were denied service at a Montreal hotel, despite the fact that they had already reserved a room. The NAACP filed a $1,000 lawsuit against the Prince George Hotel on their behalf. The 1940 census found Bertha and her son residing together in Baltimore. Bertha headed the household and was said to be married, though she was probably widowed at this date. She owned her home, valued at $5,000. No death record has been found for Bertha Hurst.


"A.M.E Mission Board Endorses Dr. Barry for Re-Election." The Pittsburgh Courier, 24 June 1939, p. 15. U.S., African American Newspapers, 1829-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011

"Baltimore, MD." The New York Age, 30 Apr. 1914, p. 5.

"Baltimore, MD." The New York Age, 18 Feb. 1915, p. 5.

"Baltimore, MD." The New York Age, 21 Oct. 1915, p. 7.

"Baltimore, MD." The New York Age, 24 May 1917, p. 7.

"Bishop Hurst Taken Ill at Wilberforce." The New York Age, 28 June 1917, p. 2.

"Charles E. Stump, The Kansas Newspaper Writer, Spends Much Time in Birmingham, Alabama, and Other Parts of the United States." The Broad Ax, 8 June 1918, p. 3.

"Charles E. Stump, Who Hails From The State of Kansas, Has Spent the Past Three Weeks Baskin' In the Bright Sunshine of Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fla." The Broad Ax, 23 Mar. 1918, p. 3.

"Chips." The Broad Axe , 18 Nov. 1911, p. 2.

Curtis, Mary. "In Society's Realm." The National Forum, 1 Oct. 1910, p. 1.

"Deaths." The Evening Sun, 6 June 1930, p. 2.,0.6454492,0.9786606,0.67391646&xid=2378&_ga=2.195131820.1473881173.1570143765-80944136.1567721503

"Deaths." The Evening Sun, 6 May 1930, p. 2.

"Explains How Women Can Aid Christianity." The Morning News, 26 Mar. 1934, p. 3.

"Hurst and Savage Join Hands Again." The Pittsburgh Courier, 24 Mar. 1928, p. 8.

"J.O. Midnight." Kansas City Advocate, 23 Mar. 1923, p. 8.

"Methodist Women Hold Mt. Olive Church Session." The Tampa Times, 10 Mar. 1928, p. 12.

"Missionary Women Get After Dr. Rankin." The New York Age, 4 Nov. 1915, p. 1.

"Mrs. Hurst to Be Bethel Speaker." The News Journal, 23 Mar. 1934, p. 26.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1633; Volume #: Roll 1633 - Certificates: 43876-44249, 31 May 1921-31 May 1921

"Record Attendance at Missionary Meet." St. Louis Globe, 9 Oct. 1931, p. 7.

Rief, Michelle. "Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The International Agenda of African American Clubwomen, 1880-1940." The Journal of African American History, 89:3 (2004), 203-22.

"Ritchie Names Bi-Centennial Planning Body." The Daily Times, 17 June 1931, p. 4.

"Society Chooses Officers." Evening Star, 1 Oct. 1910, p. 1.

Stump, Charles E. "Rev. W. Sampson Brooks, Pastor of Bethel Church, Baltimore, M.D., Is the Greatest Money Raiser and Church Debt Payer in the A.M.E. Connection." The Broad Ax, 28

June 1919, p. 5.

Weaver, Diane E., "Maryland Women and the Transformation of Politics, 1890s-1930 (Unpublished Ph.D. Diss., 1992), p. 164.

Whitney, L. Baynard. "N.A.A.C.P. Brings Suit For $1,000 On Behalf of Doctor When Prince George Hotel Refuses Board." The New York Age, 23 Sept. 1933, p. 1.

Year: 1923; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 2; Page Number: 34

Year: 1930; Census Place: Baltimore, Maryland; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0264; FHL microfilm: 2340596

Year: 1930; Census Place: Columbia, Richland, South Carolina; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 2341944

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