Biographies
Josephine Ruffin

Joshephine Ruffin
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin(1842-1924)
journalist, civil rights leader



Ruffin was born August 31, 1842 into one of Boston's leading black families. In 1858, at the age of 15, she became the wife of George Lewis Ruffin, the first African American to graduate from Harvard Law School. During the Civil War Ruffin was involved in various civil rights causes, charity work, and the women's suffrage movement. In 1879 she established the Boston Kansas Relief Association, a charity organization that provided food and clothing to black Bostonians who were migrating to Kansas. Her philanthropic work brought her in contact with many eminent white and black leaders and her close friends included William Lloyd Garrison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Booker T. Washington.

From 1890 to 1897 Ruffin served as the editor and publisher of Woman's Era, the first newspaper published by and for African American women. It was used to highlight the achievements of African American women and to champion black women's rights.

In 1894 she organized the Women's Era Club, an advocacy group for black women, with the help of her daughter Florida Ridely and Maria Baldwin, a Boston school principal.

Ruffin died on March 13, 1924.


Further Reading

Streitmatter, Rodger. Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists Who Changed History. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1994.