Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Born in Pittsburgh, Brown was an educator closely associated with Wilberforce University in Ohio.
A free daughter of former slaves, Hallie Quinn Brown was born in Pittsburgh in 1845. She acquired a great deal of education for the time, becoming a well-known educator, lecturer, and civil rights activist. Brown died in 1949 in Wilberforce, Ohio, the locus for so much of her life.
Hallie Quinn Brown was born on March 10, 1845, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Thomas Brown and Frances Brown. Thomas had been a former slave in Frederick County, Maryland, and bought his freedom in 1834. Her mother, also a former slave, was freed by her white grandfather, who was also her owner. Both her mother and father were well educated and worked actively with the Underground Railroad.
Brown began her education in Canada, where her family had moved because of her mother's poor health. Her family then moved to Wilberforce, Ohio, where Brown attended Wilberforce University, an African Methodist Episcopal Church institution. She received her Bachelor's degree in 1873. She later attended the Chautauqua Lecture School and graduated as salutatorian of her class in 1886. In 1890, she was awarded an honorary MS. Her first teaching position was in southern California. There, she taught children and adults from plantations around the country to read. Later, she took charge of a school on the Sonora plantation in Mississippi and held several other teaching positions in various states. In 1875, Brown returned to Ohio, where she taught in the Dayton public school system for several years. She was Dean of Allen University in Columbia from 1885 to 1887. From 1892 to 1893, she served as Dean of women at the Tuskegee Institute. She accepted a position as a professor of elocution at Wilberforce University in 1893.
Brown began traveling as a speaker throughout Europe. She lectured for the British Women's Temperance Association and was made a member of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1910, she spoke as a representative to the Woman's Missionary Society of the African Methodist Conference, which was held in Edinburgh. She became an organizer and crusader in the Women's Christian Temperance Union movement. From 1905 to 1912, she was president of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Club and also founded the Neighborhood Club in Wilberforce, Ohio. She served as president of the National Association of Colored Women from 1905 to 1924.
Brown both supported and advocated women'srights and civil rights. Most of her time was committed to teaching and public speaking. She also wrote several books including:Bits and Odds: A Choice Selection of Recitations, published in 1880;First Lessons in Public Speaking, published in 1920; andThe Beautiful: A Story of Slavery, published in 1924. Two buildings were named to serve as her memorial after her death: the Hallie Quinn Brown Community House in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Hallie Q. Brown Memorial Library in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Brown died on September 16, 1949, in Wilberforce, Ohio, of coronary thrombosis.
Bits and Odds: A Choice Selection of Recitations. Xenia, OH: Chew Press, 1884.
Elocution and Physical Culture. Wilberforce, OH: Homewood Cottage, 1910.