Norma Clayton (Bacchus)


Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Norma Clayton (Bacchus), 1895-1965

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Norma Clayton, daughter of Robert and Rosa Clayton, was born in Roanoke, VA, on January 27, 1895. In 1910 she resided with her mother and grandparents, Charles and Mariah Buck, in Lynchburg, VA. In 1920 she and her mother lived alone in Lynchburg. Norma, then 24, was recorded as a public school teacher. She was listed among the very first Black women to register to vote in Lynchburg in the fall of 1920.

Norma Clayton married Frank V. Bacchus, though the date is uncertain. In 1930 Frank and Norma Bacchus lived together as roomers in Washington, DC, indicating that they married sometime in the 1920s. In 1940 the couple were still in the District. Frank Bacchus was a druggist in 1930 and a pharmacist in 1940. Norma was employed as a teacher in both census years. Two teenage nieces lived with the couple in 1940, both attending high school. The Bacchuses had no children of their own. Both Frank and Norma had attended four years of college. Norma's earnings in 1940 came to $2,800. The couple owned their home, valued in that year at $13,500.

In 1938 the couple was engaged in a very public divorce proceeding covered in the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier. The outcome of the case is unclear and the fact that the couple is listed at the same address in the 1940 census suggests that they may have reconciled their differences.

By 1950 Norma Bacchus was listed in the DC census as widowed and working for the government. Whether this was a teaching position or something else is not clear. A niece and a cousin resided with her. She died in Washington, DC in January of 1965.


Federal Manuscript Censuses, Lynchburg, VA, 1910 and 1920, entries for Norma Clayton. Also Washington, DC, 1930-1950, for Frank and Norma Bacchus. Accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.

Norma Clayton death record on Geni, accessed online at

"School Teacher and Husband Air Marital Troubles in Court," Pittsburgh Courier, 3 Dec. 1938, p. 5.


Related Writings in Database

View works by

View works about




Back to List of Black Woman Suffragists
back to top