Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Madeline Sheppard, 1894-1974

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Madeline Sheppard was born in Pennsylvania in 1894, the daughter of David R. and Josephine Sheppard. Madeline was the seventh of nine children residing with their parents in 1900 and 1910 and with their widowed father in 1920. The family lived in Meyersdale, PA all three years. Her father was a barber and she was recorded as a teacher in 1920.

In 1910 Madeline was listed in a directory of Howard University students and she graduated from Howard in July 1915.

In February 1921, Madeline Sheppard joined a delegation of 60 Black women suffragists, who protested violations of the recently ratified 19th Amendment in Southern states that denied Black women their voting rights. The delegation, headed by the NAACP field secretary, Addie W. Hunton, met with Alice Paul, head of the National Woman's Party (NWP) on the eve of the national convention. Their purpose was to press the NWP to pass a resolution calling on Congress to investigate the failures of Southern states to enforce the 19th Amendment for Black women. Paul made no such commitment and the convention as a whole refused to endorse the call.

In January 1923 Sheppard married William R. Hurst in New York City. The couple resided in Washington, D.C., where William was recorded as an insurance agent in 1930, while Madeline continued as an elementary school teacher through at least 1950. The Hursts owned their own home in D.C. in 1930, valued at $11,000. They had no children.

Madeline Sheppard Hurst passed away in Washington, D.C. in August 1974, at the age of 80. She is buried in Meyersdale, PA.


Federal Manuscript Censuses, Meyersdale, PA, 1900 and 1920; Washington, D.C., 1930-1950. Town confirmed listing in the Howard University student directory as Meyersdale, PA. Both accessible online with Ancestry Library Edition.

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.

Indianapolis Recorder, July 1915, notes Sheppard's Howard University graduation.

Madeline Sheppard marriage to William R. Hurst, 13 January 1923; obituary of Madeline Hurst in the Somerset Daily American, 27 August 1974. Accessible in Ancestry Library Edition.

Find-a-Grave entry for Madeline S. Hurst.


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