Josephine Holmes (Frazier)

Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Josephine Holmes (Frazier), 1868-1927

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Josephine Holmes was born in Atlanta in 1868, the daughter of George and Elvira Holmes. Her father was a day laborer in 1880. She graduated from Clark University in South Atlanta. She was active in the National Association of Colored Women and the Atlanta Woman's Club. In 1897 she served as state organizer for the Georgia Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

Holmes supported woman suffrage in 1908 and 1919. She served as the National Secretary of the Equal Suffrage League and her name appears on ESL letterhead on a 1908 petition to the U.S. Congress calling for enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments. The ESL had been founded by Sarah J.S. Garnet in the late 1880's and was headquartered in Brooklyn. That same year Holmes was serving as the first recording secretary of the National Association of Colored Women and she was listed in a call for the annual meeting of the Association that was held in Brooklyn in August 1908.

Holmes was a teacher in public school 89 in New York City, a position she held for 17 years, until her death in 1927. In April 1919 she took part in a mass meeting at St. Mark's M.E. Church in Manhattan calling for voting rights for Blacks in the South. At that event Holmes proposed language for the woman suffrage amendment that was finally passed by Congress in June.

In 1923 she married Rev. Nicholas C. Frazier. In July 1921 Holmes participated in the statewide meeting of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs, giving a speech entitled, "Organization is Power." Holmes was re-elected as chairman of the Federation's Executive Committee. An August 1925 article in Opportunity, the journal of the National Urban League, reported that Josephine Holmes Frazier continued to serve on the Executive Committee of the Federation.

Josephine Holmes Frazier died in New York in 1927, at the age of 59, and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. She had no children.

Sources:

Petition from the Equal Suffrage League, March 17, 1908, accessible online at http://credo.library.umass.edu/view/full/mums312-b002-i201.

Marriage record, Nicholas C. Frazier and Josephine E. Holmes, New York, N.Y., 15 August 1923. Accessed online through Ancestry Library Edition.

Opportunity, vols. 3-4 (August 1925), p. 255.

"Manhattan and the Bronx," New York Age, 20 Sept. 1917, p. 8.

"Colored Citizens of New York Start Campaign to Get Ballot for the Race in the South," New York Age, 12 April 1919, p. 1.

"Empire State Women Hold Stormy Session," Buffalo American, 28 July 1921, p. 1.

"Josephine H. Frazier, School Teacher, and Noted Clubwoman, Dead," New York Age, 22 Oct. 1927, p. 1.

Federal Manuscript Census, Atlanta, GA, 1880, entry of the family of Josephine Holmes. Accessed online in Ancestry Library Edition.

 

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