Adella Hunt Logan – Encyclopedia of New Georgia
Adella Hunt Logan was an African-American teacher, clubwoman, and suffragette known primarily for her activist work in education, public health, and women’s rights.
Adella Hunt was born during the Civil War (1861-1865) to a white planter and a free woman of African and Cherokee descent. After attending WH Bass Academy in Hancock County, she continued her education at Atlanta University, graduating with an upper normal division degree in 1881. That same year, she began her teaching career at the ‘American Missionary Association in Albany.
In 1883, Hunt became the second woman to join the faculty of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she formed close friendships with the Institute’s founder and director, Booker T. Washington, his colleague George Washington Carver, and W.E.B. DuBois, co-founder of the National Association. for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Although Du Bois turned down a teaching position at Tuskegee, Hunt continued a lifelong correspondence with him. After taking additional courses at the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Institute in New York, she completed a master’s thesis under DuBois and received an honorary master’s degree from Atlanta University’s trustees (the degree was “honorary”) as the school was not yet accredited to award graduate degrees).
In 1888, she married Warren Logan, the school’s treasurer. The couple had nine children, but only six reached adulthood.
Hunt Logan was instrumental in the development of the Tuskegee program. As the school’s first librarian, she filled the library with material on women’s suffrage. She taught English and social studies and served as temporary co-director, expanding the curriculum to include skills such as math and literature. In addition to teaching, Hunt Logan joined the Tuskegee Woman’s Club in 1895, where she led discussions and participated in debates regarding racial upliftment, education, prison reform, and women’s rights.
Women’s suffrage and the club movement
At the start of the Progressive Era, women launched campaigns for various social and political reforms, with an emphasis on the right to vote. Black women were excluded from major women’s suffrage organizations like the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which was led by white suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt. Because she was able to pass as a white woman, Hunt Logan was able to attend meetings held by white suffragettes, including the 1895 NAWSA convention in Atlanta.
Hunt Logan and other African-American suffragettes mobilized locally and nationally as part of the black women’s club movement. In 1896, the women of the club formed the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), and for years Hunt Logan headed their suffrage department. In the early 1900s, she wrote poems and articles on black women’s suffrage in nationally recognized African-American periodicals, such as colorful american magazine and NAACP Crisis. A devoted member of the Tuskegee Women’s Club, she helped orchestrate a march on the Tuskegee campus that drew several hundred supporters in 1912.
While living in Alabama, Hunt Logan often returned to Georgia to lobby for social reform alongside other black activists, including Victoria Earle Matthews, Janie Porter Barrett, Lucy Craft Laney and Selena Sloan Butler. In 1897, she gave one of her best-known speeches at the Second Annual Atlanta Conference to Study Black Problems at Atlanta University. This speech, “Prenatal and Hereditary Influences,” was emblematic of Hunt Logan’s advocacy for the well-being of black women and families. During her lifetime, she also spoke out against lynching and segregation in train cars.
Hunt Logan struggled with depression, which was exacerbated in 1915 by the death of Booker T. Washington and rumors of her husband’s infidelity. After a brief stay in a Michigan sanitarium, Logan jumped from the fifth floor of a building on the Tuskegee campus and died on December 12, 1915.
Although Hunt Logan did not live to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, her lifelong activism and contributions to the fight for women’s suffrage are preserved through her writings and family legacy. His granddaughter, historian Adele Logan Alexander, worked diligently to trace Hunt Logan’s life and published a family memoir, Princess of the Hither Isles: The Story of a Black Jim Crow Southern Suffragistin 2019.