Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Sheena Harris



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Beverly Bond

Committee Member

Aram Goudsouzian

Committee Member

Margaret Caffrey

Committee Member

Susan O'Donovan


By the end of the 19th century black women had created women's clubs as a meeting-ground to voice their political and social concerns. However, more needs to be written on individual clubwomen who formed and presided over these clubs during the Progressive Era. This study examines the professional life and clubwork of Margaret Murray Washington, the third wife of race leader Booker T. Washington.This dissertation seeks to provide the most comprehensive study to date on Margaret Murray Washington's professional life. Washington's early beginning's played a significant role in her future ideas on self-help and community betterment. Born in the rural town of Mcon, Mississippi, to a black mother and an absentee father, Washington used the lessons from her childhood to understand the changing tide of race relations in America and as a tool for racial uplift during the lowest point of African American history.Margaret Washington's education from Fisk University helped to solidify her position as a leader of African American Women, as it provided her with training closely identified with the "new black elite." Once she arrived to Tuskegee, Alabama, her pioneering work with the Tuskegee Women's Club, the National Federation of Afro-American Women's Clubs, the National Association of Colored Women, the Southern Federation of Colored Women, the Alabama State Federation, and the International Council of Women of the Darker Races of the World, coupled with her home-life and work as Lady Principal were influential to Margaret Murray Washington's Professional Persona.This dissertation concludes that Washington was a pioneer in education and clubwork. Just as her husband led the men of the race, she left a blueprint for female education and her political activism helps to broaden our understanding of race women during the Progressive Era.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.