Emma Eliza Williamson Gray Bauduit

 

Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Emma Eliza Williamson Gray Bauduit, 1869-1961

By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, VA

Emma Eliza Williamson was born October 6, 1869, to Eli and Emmaline Hunter Williamson in Hertford County, North Carolina. Her father was the grandson of George Williamson, who was a noted shoemaker and had bought his freedom by making shoes. That freedom was handed down to Eli who spent many years in the Navy and Merchant Marine; he was the first African American to obtain a first-class license at the US Customhouse in Norfolk, Virginia. The family was living in Norfolk at the time of the 1900 census, which indicates that Eli Williamson was a grocer and Emma, her mother, and a sister were dressmakers. Emma received a high school education.

In the early 1900s, Emma married a man with the surname Gray, who is thought to be Foster Gray. She was listed as Emma Gray in her parents' obituaries in 1914 and 1915. On July 27, 1917, Emma Gray and William J. Bauduit applied for a marriage license in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the application, Emma wrote that her first husband had died in 1903. William Bauduit had earned mathematics degrees from the University of Chicago and led a distinguished career as a professor at Howard University in Washington, DC. The 1920 and 1930 censuses found the couple living in DC with no children.

In February 1921, a delegation of African American supporters of women's suffrage met to protest violations of the recently ratified 19th Amendment by Southern states that systematically denied Black women's voting rights. This group of women asked the National Woman's Party to approach the US Congress about appointing a special committee to investigate the violations of woman suffrage that were occurring in southern states with regard to African American women. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for the meeting and Addie W. Hunton, NAACP Field Secretary, organized the gathering. Emma Bauduit's name and address are among those that appear on the NAACP list of delegates. In addition, Addie Hunton stayed with Emma Bauduit while she was in Washington.

In 1929, Emma Bauduit sued the estate of the late Sarah Dunlop for services rendered during her lifetime. The deceased had promised to remember Ms. Bauduit in her will if she took care of her, but then left Ms. Bauduit a set of dishes. The District Supreme Court awarded Ms. Bauduit $4,285 plus interest.

In 1940 Emma and William were living at 1212 Park Rd. in Washington, DC. William earned $4000 that year as a professor. He had retired by 1950 and both continued to live in the District. Emma died March 16, 1961, at her residence on 1212 Park Road, NW, Washington, DC. Her husband had predeceased her. Both are buried at National Harmony Memorial Park Cemetery in Hyattsville, Maryland.

SOURCES

1870 U.S. Census, North Carolina Hertford County, Winton, Roll M593_1143, p. 440B. Digital images. Ancestry.com.

1900 U.S. Census, Virginia, Norfolk City Norfolk Ward 3, Roll 1735; p. 6; Enumeration District. Digital images. Ancestry.com.

1920-1950 Federal censuses, Washington, DC. Ancestry Library Edition.

"Appeals Court Upholds Woman's $6,000 Verdict." Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 4, 1929, p. 3, col. 5. Available online at https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1929-06-04/ed-1/seq-3/

Carter, Jeanette. "Washington Letter." The New York Age (New York). February 19, 1921, p. 2. Available through newspapers.com.

"Colored Women Threaten to Picket Convention." The Dallas Express (Dallas, Texas), February 26, 1921, p. 3. Available online through newspapers.com.

"Died." The Washington Post, January 7, 1959, p. B26. Available through Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"Died." The Washington Post, March 22, 1961, p. B6. Available through Proquest Historical Newspapers.

"Eli Williamson Dies at the Age of Ninety." Evening Star (Washington, DC), March 14, 1915, p. 5. Available online through newspapers.com.

List of NAACP Delegation Members to Alice Paul, 12 February 1921, NAACP Papers, Part 04 Voting Rights and Voting Rights Campaign, 1916-1950 (Feb. 8, 1921-April 3, 1921) frames 61-64, Library of Congress.

"Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, Marriages, 1916-1950; marriage index books, 1885-1951." Available through familysearch.org.

 

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