Ida Wells

 Ida Wells

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (July 6, 1862-March 25, 1931)
Journalist, anti-lynching crusader, co-founder of the NAACP

Wells was born to slave parents in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She was educated at Rust University, a high school and industrial school for former slaves established in Holly Springs in 1866, and went on to study at Fisk University. Her earliest jobs were in the teaching field. In 1892 she became part-owner of The Memphis Free Speech. On March 9 of that year she printed an article that denounced the lynching of three of her friends, accused of raping three white women. Her article angered many Memphis whites and she was forced out of town. The offices of The Memphis Free Speech were destroyed by an angry mob. This event launched her lifelong career as an anti-lynching crusader and pioneering journalist. She traveled across the country and in Europe to protest lynchings, called for the establishment of anti-lynching legislation, and exposed racial injustice. In 1910 she helped co-found the NAACP. She served at some of the leading papers of her era including The New York Age, The Chicago Defender, and Chicago's The Conservator, a paper jointly owned by her husband, Ferdinand Barnett. She died of uremia on March 25, 1931.


Hardy, Gayle J. American Women Civil Rights Activists: Biobibliographies of 68 Leaders, 1825-1992. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1993.

Penn, I. Garland. The Afro-American Press and its Editors. Salem, New Hampshire: Ayer Company, Publishers, Inc., 1891.

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

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells. edited by Alfreda M. Duster. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

Archival Collections

Ida B. Wells Papers in the Department of Special Collections, Joseph Regenstein Library, University of Chicago

Archives and Manuscripts Division at the Chicago Historical Society.

Some correspondence by Wells located in The Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress

Books by Ida . Wells

Wells-Barnett, Ida B.. The Memphis diary of Ida B. Wells. Boston: Beacon Press, c1995.

On lynchings: Southern horrors, A red record, Mob rule n New Orleans. New York, Arno Press, 1969.

On lynchings: Southern horrors, A red record, Mob rule in New Orleans. Salem, New Hampshire: Ayer Co., 1990.

A red record tabulated statistics and alleged causes of lynchings in the United States, 1892-1893-1894. Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry,