Harriet Purvis, Jr.

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Contributed by Leanne Daley

Harriet Purvis, Jr. was the daughter of renowned abolitionists and activists for equal rights, Harriet Forten Purvis and Robert Purvis. Known as Hattie, she was involved in abolitionist and women’s rights work from a young age. She grew up in a household that was at the forefront of the abolitionist movement in Pennsylvania and a stop on the Underground Railroad. Her parents were associated with various reformers, including Susan B. Anthony. 

Harriet was considered to be part of the second generation of American suffragists. She joined the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, founded by her grandmother, mother, and aunts in 1866. From 1866 to 1869, she worked with her mother on the anti-slavery fair, aiming to raise funds for its abolitionist activities. She attended the 1866 National Woman’s Rights Convention and became a member of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), where she served as corresponding and recording secretary until the group dissolved in 1869. Harriet also joined the Pennsylvania Woman’s Suffrage Association, where she served on the executive committee. From 1883 to 1900, she was a delegate to the National Woman’s Suffrage Association and served as its first African-American vice president. She worked closely with Susan B. Anthony to advocate for women’s rights. She was also active in the temperance movement and joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and encouraged Black women to participate in the movement. She was a committed suffragist who never married, and spent her life dedicated to her work.