Harper, Frances E. W. (1825-1911)

edited by
Shirley Wilson Logan


Voices of Democracy: The U. S. Oratory Project

Department of Communication,
2130 Skinner Building,
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 21774

Brief notes on the text are included in the editorial
declaration of this header.

The World’s Congress of Representative Women: A Historical Resume for Popular Circulation of the World’s Congress of Representative Women, Convened in Chicago of May 15, and adjourned on May 22, 1893, under the auspices of the Women’s Branch of the World’s Congress Auxiliary, edited by May Wright Sewall. Chicago: Rand, McNally and Company, 1894, 433-37.

The entire book from which this text is taken is available electronically through the Harvard University Library Page Delivery Service: http://pds.harvard.edu:8080/pdx/
All other instances of the text cite this work as source. The editor has found no other versions.
The complete text of the speech is also published online at Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930 http://sadl.uleth.ca/nz/collect/whist/import/complete/womhist.binghamton.edu/ibw/doc12.htm accessed 06 June 6. This version was also taken from Sewall’s volume, which includes the erroneous attribution from that volume: “Address By Frances E. W. Harper of Virginia,” rather than Pennsylvania.

The full text of “Woman’s Political Future” in print can be found in With Pen and Voice: A Critical Anthology of Nineteenth-Century African American Women. Ed. Shirley Wilson Logan. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995, 43-46. The speech is included in the following books with portions omitted: Guy-Sheftall, Beverly. ed. Words of Fire: an Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought. New York: The New Press, 1995. 40-42; Boyd, Melba Joyce. Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper 1825-1911. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1994. 222-25; Bogin, Ruth and Bert Loewenberg, eds. Black Women in Nineteenth-Century American Life. University Park: Penn State UP, 1976. 244-47.

Frances Harper is silent on her participation in the Congress and left no extant text of the address in her own hand. Sewall lists all addresses in the chapter headnote as “extracts from” (413); however, at the end of her chapter prefatory comment, she notes that addresses are included “in practical completeness” (415). In the “Editor’s Concluding Note,” for the entire two-volume set, Sewall comments on the difficulty assembling accurate versions of speech texts, having found errors in the submitted records of proceedings. Consequently, she invited each participant to send a copy of her address but does not indicate which women actually did. Most of the women elected to rely upon the edited version submitted in the official report. Thus, it is difficult to determine whether we have here an “extract from” Harper’s original address or one “in practical completeness.” Further, we do not know whether Harper submitted her own version for use in the publication or chose to have Sewall print the text as recorded. What does seem to be clear is that the speech as published in Sewall’s edition is the only extant copy. All subsequent printings cite this edition as their source.

Paragraph numbers have been added in square brackets.

The text of this edition has been thoroughly checked and proofread. The text does not depart from the copy-text or general editorial principles.

All double quotation marks are rendered with “, all single quotation marks with

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Characteristics of interpretation of this edition are as follows:

Proper names are not marked.
Dates are not marked.
Emphasis is marked without interpretation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Classification

20 May 1893
Chicago, Illinois


Social Science
Family, Marriage, Women, Feminism


VOD Associate Editor
Gaines, Robert N.

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