Lucille Wheelock (Williams)


Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Lucille Wheelock (Williams), 1897-1975


By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Lucille Wheelock was born in Virginia, about 1897, the oldest of two children of Frederick and Matilda Wheelock. In 1900 her father worked as a clerk in a local school; by 1920 he was a plumber at Hampton Institute. Lucille graduated from Hartshorn College in Richmond and worked as a teacher in a Hampton public school.

Like many of her cohort, Lucille and her mother, Matilda Wheelock, rushed to register to vote after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Her mother registered successfully, but then word came down to the registrar to make things difficult for Black applicants, who had to "write out the application without a form to indicate which information was needed, take a written test, and then take an oral test as well." When Lucille Wheelock tried to register, "her oral test dragged on for nearly ‘three quarters of an hour' before the registrar told her she did not pass." She "failed" despite being a college graduate and a teacher.

By 1930 Lucille had moved away from Hampton and she had taken a job as assistant librarian in the Frissell Library at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. By 1933 she had earned a B.S. degree in Library Science and was appointed acting director of the library.

By 1950 Lucille Wheelock had returned to live with her aging mother in Hampton, Virginia. Her mother passed away in 1959 and in 1964 she married Maceo Williams. She was an active member of the Zion Baptist Church in these years. In 1975 Lucille Wheelock passed away in Hampton, Virginia and she is buried in the Hampton Institute Cemetery.


Liette Gidlow, "Resistance after Ratification: The Nineteenth Amendment, African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disfranchisement after 1920," in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (2017).

Addie W. Hunton, "'Phoebus' and ‘Hampton,'" NAACP Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, reprinted online in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000.

Federal Manuscript Censuses, Elizabeth City County, Va., 1900 and 1920; Tuskegee, Ala., 1930; Elizabeth City County, Va., 1950, accessed online with Ancestry Library Edition.

Marriage record of Lucille Wheelock and Maceo Williams, 1964, accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.

Death record of Lucille Wheelock Williams, Hampton, Va., 1975, accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.

Obituary for Mrs. Williams, Newport News Daily Press, Jan. 28, 1975, p. 8.

Southern Workman, 66:2 (1 March 1937), p. 94.


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