My Contribution: I advocated for women’s suffrage, war aid efforts, and positive interracial relations in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. My major edited work, Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence, published in Harrisburg in 1914, features fifty-one of the best and most famous speeches of Black men and women of America, Africa, and Europe from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
My Legacy: I used my talents for writing and speaking and served as an advocate for women’s suffrage, war aid, and anti-lynching efforts. I am considered a Harlem Renaissance poet, and my plays, poetry, short stories, and journalism make me an iconic African American writer.
About Me: “I recall, as a kid in Harrisburg, PA, the sweeping grace with which she swept into the large parlor of the Justin Carters before she took to vow which tied her into marital fetters to her present husband, Athletic Commissioner Robert J. Nelson. A Lady-in-Waiting, fresh from the pompous corridors of some 18th-Centurly French drawing room, was the impression.” — Orrin C. Evans, “On a Personal Note,” Afro-American, April 29, 1933.
“Mrs. Alice Dunbar Wilson, one of the most widely-known colored lecturers and writers in the country today has been secured to speak before the Forum in Wesley Church, Forster street, tomorrow afternoon. Mrs. Wilson is widely known as a lecturer of note…. The subject of her talk tomorrow ‘His Country’ is one of interest to all.” Harrisburg Telegraph, February 23, 1918.
Full Name: Alice Ruth Moore; Alice Dunbar-Nelson
Birth Date: July 19, 1875
Death Date: September 18, 1935
Place of Birth: New Orleans, Louisiana
Race: Black (1900 and 1920 Federal Censuses), “Mulatto” (1910 Federal Census), and “Negro” (1930 Federal Census).
Places of Residence: 56 Palmyra Street, New Orleans, Louisiana; Brooklyn, New York (1897-1898); 2236 Sixth Street, Washington, D.C.; 1008 French Street, 916 French Street (1909-1923), and 1310 French Street (1926-1932) in Wilmington, Delaware; Philadelphia, PA (1933-1935).
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Frequently lectured at Wesley Union A.M.E Zion Church; husband, Robert, was activist within the Eighth Ward, diary discusses time in Harrisburg; scrapbook of suffragist work includes articles and artifacts relating to speaking engagements and work throughout Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg.
Family Members: Father: Joseph Moore. Mother: Patricia “Patsy” Wright Moore. Husband: M1: Paul Laurence Dunbar, m. 1898-1902. Husband: M2: Henry Arthur Callis, m. 1910-1913. Husband: M3: Robert Nelson, m. 1916-1935.
Education: Straight College (now Dillard University); Columbia University; Cornell University; Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art; and University of Pennsylvania.
Occupations: Teacher. Poet. Playwright. Journalist. Newspaper editor.
Church Membership: Episcopal
Activism: Reconstruction and Readjustment Conference (Howard University); Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense; Delaware Republican Convention (delegate); American Interracial Peace Committee (executive secretary); Pennsylvania State Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs; and Delaware Crusaders for the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill.
Connections: Robert Nelson (husband) and W. Justin Carter.