Margaret Murray Washington
b. 1861 or 1865, Macon, Mississippi; d. 1925, probably Tuskegee, Alabama
As a public figure in the racial uplift movement, Margaret Murray Washington represented the conservative end of the ideological spectrum. She attended Fisk University, where a meeting with Booker T. Washington—whom she married in 1892—resulted in a job at Tuskegee Institute as lady principal and director of the Department of Girls Industries, eventually becoming dean of women. Tuskegee focused on vocational training. Girls were taught sewing, millinery, basketry, laundering, and other home management skills; strict morality was rigorously enforced. Guided by the notion that the “nurturing and God-fearing mother” was key to advancing the race, Washington organized self-improvement programs for women in the Tuskegee area and beyond through the Tuskegee Women’s Club, which she founded in 1895. Later, the clubwomen established a Town Night School for adults unable to attend the Tuskegee Institute. Her commitment to race vindication through moral uplift informed her work at the national level with organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Federal of Afro-American Women. She was president of the National Association of Colored Women from 1912 to 1916, and edited its newsletter, National Notes, for many years.