Frances Harper (1825-1911) was an abolitionist, prohibitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer.
She was one of the first African American women to be published in the US, with her first book of poems published at the age of just 20. In 1859 her short story "Two Offers" made literary history as the first short story published by a black woman.
As an active abolitionist she helped refugee slaves make their way along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada. Harper wrote to the abolitionist John Brown after his arrest and before his execution: "I thank you that you have been brave enough to reach out your hands to the crushed and blighted of my race; I hope from your sad fate great good may arise to the cause of freedom."
Harper founded, supported, and held high office in several national progressive organizations. She served as superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women's Christian Temperance Union and in 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president.
The illustration on this tea towel is based on a contemporary engraving.
You can read more about this remarkable woman in our blog post.