Little information remains about Elizabeth Douglass, the eldest daughter of Reverend William Douglass and Elizabeth Douglass, who was born in Philadelphia around 1837.1 From the information at hand, it is likely that Douglass never married. The few traces that she did leave behind are pieces of her life as an educated dressmaker, who cared about educational causes.

Though Douglass is not mentioned in the convention minutes, she was seventeen years old at the time, which likely would have brought her in conversation with delegates and attendees. Douglass would have been aware of the woman-as-educator conversation, which likely inspired her to continue living at home as a trades-person herself and helping with her younger siblings until her father’s death in 1862.2

One of the causes that mentions Douglass’ name was the 1866 Book Fair, an aid to the Book Room.3 Rev. Elisha Weaver, General Book Steward, recruited several women to help him raise money for the book room, and Douglass’ name is on the committee list. The fact that she was recruited for a committee like this speaks to her standing in the community—as the respectable sort of woman whose name would be a boon to a fundraising event—as well as her interest in literary societies and education.



Submitted on 26 March 2013 by Kathryn Wright, graduate student at the University of Delaware.

Researched for English 634, Spring 2013, taught by Professor P. Gabrielle Foreman.


  1., “1850 United States Federal Census Record,” accessed March 13, 2013;, “1860 United States Federal Census Record,” accessed March 13, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Fair in Aid of the Book Room.” The Christian Recorder, June 23, 1866. From African American Newspapers.