MS 203 - Ella P. Stewart Collection
|Title||MS 203 - Ella P. Stewart Collection|
The scrapbooks of Ella P. Stewart, one of the earliest African-American women pharmacists in the United States, span from the 1920s to the 1980s. The collection documents Mrs. Stewart's accomplishments, interests and honors as preserved by herself, thus giving insight into her life not only as a pharmacist in the city of Toledo, Ohio, but also as a business woman, clubwoman, civic reformer, goodwill ambassador, civil rights leader, and women's rights advocate. A two hour interview of Mrs. Stewart documenting her history is also included with the scrapbooks, as well as information on the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the Pan-Pacific Southeast Asia Women's Association (PPSEWA) and the Ella P. Stewart School.
The collection was donated and transferred to the Center for Archival Collections in 1982 by Ella P. Stewart in coordination with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant project designed to collect women's records within the northwest Ohio region. The collection is open to the public and duplication is permitted for research purposes. The register was prepared by Susan Irwin in June 1992 and revised by Louise Turner in May 2002. The collection was re-evaluated and reorganized by Eric Honneffer in July 2014.
Ella Nora Phillips Stewart was born on March 6, 1893 in Stringtown, West Virginia. Though she grew up in the era of sanctioned segregation, her abilities were such that she felt she could overcome those hurdles and did so with a career and life that spanned ninety-four years. With a love of nature and an exceptional interest in learning, she attended high school at the age of twelve at the Storer College - the only school in the region that accepted black students. Rather than continue her training and education as a teacher, she chose to marry Charles Myers and begin a family. She had one child, a daughter, who unfortunately died at a young age from whooping cough. Advised by friends to turn her attention to new concerns, Stewart began working as a bookkeeper at a local pharmacy, where she developed an interest in becoming a pharmacist herself. Stewart wished to attend the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy but was met with discrimination when she was told admissions were closed. She persisted however, and although segregated from other students, she graduated with high marks passing her state exam in 1916, to become the first licensed African-American female pharmacist in Pennsylvania and one of the earliest practicing African-American female pharmacists in the country. 1
Stewart worked in Pittsburgh and then Braddock, Pennsylvania where she was employed at the General Hospital and managed a drugstore. Her hard work enabled her to purchase the drugstore but the pressure of business affected her marriage and health. Ella divorced her husband, but after purchasing another drugstore she was forced to move back home because of her ill health. She left her business in the hands of a fellow graduate of the School of Pharmacy, William Stewart, whom she married in 1920.
The Stewarts moved to Youngstown, Ohio and Ella, again overcoming discrimination, applied and was hired for a pharmacist position at a local hospital which was advertised as being open only to whites. Her employment was a breakthrough and helped influence the elimination of discriminatory practices at the hospital. After a while the Stewarts moved to Detroit where Ella took up house keeping, but she soon became bored. She learned that there were no black-owned drugstores in Toledo, Ohio, so she traveled to Toledo, purchased a commercial building and in 1922, William and Ella opened the Stewart's Pharmacy. The business did well and was welcomed by the neighborhood. As Ella became more important in the community she became more and more interested in the problems that it faced. She became involved in the Enterprise Charity Club, a black women's philanthropic club which provided assistance to Toledo families. Through her work with this club, Stewart developed a reputation of leadership that led to her eventual election in 1944 as President of the Ohio Association of Colored Women and from 1948 to 1952, as President of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW).
Under Stewart's direction and through her many speeches, meetings with legislators in Washington, and news articles, the NACW lobbied effectively for many progressive measures: passage of anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation, fair employment practices legislation, equal opportunity for housing and education, the support of black-owned businesses, and the development and expansion of endowment and scholarship funds for young black women. Stewart was also involved in local affairs as a member of the Toledo League of Women Voters (the first African-American member), the League of City Mothers, the Toledo Council of Churches, and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA).
Because of her outstanding leadership, she was chosen in 1952 to be a delegate to the International Conference of Women of the World. From 1952 through the mid-1960s, she served as Vice President and International Vice President at Large of the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association, an organization established to strengthen peace efforts by promoting understanding and friendship among Asian women. In 1963 she was appointed as Commissioner for the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and continued her travels throughout the world. For Ella, her most cherished achievement and honor was the naming of a Toledo elementary school after her; a school she visited often, serving as a role model to its young students.
Despite Stewart's extensive club work and numerous honors, she was continually met with the discrimination she had worked all her life to end. She never accepted the racism she found, instead, she succeeded in her own quiet way to overcome it. Ironically, even when she decided to move to a retirement complex in 1980, she encountered difficulties and small minds. Eventually she was accepted, loved, and appreciated for who she was. In 1987, Ella P. Stewart passed away but left a legacy not only for African-American women and men, but for people everywhere, and a challenge to live by her motto, "Fight for human dignity and world peace."
1 See Metta Lou Henderson, American Women Pharmacists: Contributions to the Profession, (New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2002), 27. In much of the biographical information on Ella Stewart, she is noted as being the first African-American woman practicing pharmacist in the United States, however according to Henderson's book, this is not accurate.
|Scope and Content|
The Ella P. Stewart Collection consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, printed materials and photographs, spanning from the 1920s to the mid-1980s, which focus on her life as one of the earliest African-American women pharmacists in the United States and as an advocate for civil and women's rights. The bulk of the collection consists of information from Ella Stewart's scrapbooks which cover many topics associated with black history and women's history and include newspaper clippings, photographs, and programs from conferences and banquets. Some of the events covered include her induction into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame (1978), the receipt of her Honorary Doctorate from the University of Toledo (1974), events of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the Pan-Pacific Women's Association (PPWA), and information on the Ella P. Stewart Elementary School. Other information from her scrapbooks consist of topics of interest to Mrs. Stewart, such as world events, black entertainers, and women and black leaders she admired. One scrapbook is in microfilm format.
The collection also includes some miscellaneous correspondence, minutes, handbooks, the constitution and bylaws of the NACW, conference proceedings of the PPWA, materials associated with the Ella P. Stewart School and a scrapbook about Ella P. Stewart given to her as a birthday present. Also included is a two-hour taped oral interview with Mrs. Stewart in which she documents her own history.
The collection not only gives insight into Mrs. Stewart's interests and concerns but also her own personal feelings about certain topics. In several of her scrapbooks she writes her own editorial comments about how she feels about the subjects she is collecting. This, however, is not the case throughout the entire collection, as certain parts have scattered entries and unclear dates. Overall this collection gives insight into the life of an internationally-known woman who had the courage to overcome the racism she found and worked hard to improve the world around her.
MS 203 is available on microfilm and includes a scrapbook, 1922-1985, that is not part of the original collection.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL FILES
HONORS AND AWARDS
ELLA P. STEWART SCHOOL
TEMPLE B'NAI MEDAL
NORTHWEST OHIO/OHIO WOMAN'S AND SENIOR CITIZENS HALL OF FAME
CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS
ENTERPRISE CHARITY CLUB
FEDERATED WOMEN'S CLUBS
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (TOLEDO)
LEAGUE OF CITY MOTHERS (TOLEDO)
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COLORED WOMEN
ELLA STEWART'S PRESIDENCY
COMMITTEE FOR THE ARRIVAL IN TOLEDO OF THE KING AND QUEEN OF GREECE
STATE DEPARTMENT TOUR OF FAR EAST
TOLEDO CHAPTER OF PAN-PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION
UNITED STATES CHAPTER OF PAN-PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION
PAN-PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES
VISIT FROM HAITIAN AMBASSADOR
UNITED NATIONS WORK
TOLEDO COUNCIL OF WORLD AFFAIRS
PORT OF TOLEDO
VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS AND ISSUES
INTERESTS AND ISSUES
TOLEDO BOARD OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS
GREATER TOLEDO COMMUNITY CHEST
JACK AND JILL FOUNDATION OF AMERICA
LINQUES NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER
LOCAL AND NATIONAL POLITICAL ISSUES AND APPOINTMENTS
AGING/OLDER AMERICANS COMMITTEE WORK
EDUCATION INTERESTS AND ISSUES
RACE AND WORK ISSUES
FREDERICK DOUGLASS ASSOCIATION WORK
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Arranged by topic
Photographs include images of Ella P. Stewart and her family (with negatives), friends, gatherings, the National Association of Colored Women, Black celebrities, and the Frederick Douglass Home.
Two audio tapes with typed transcript of interview conducted with Ella P. Stewart
Box 1: International Work
Box 2: Race Issues
Box 3: National Association of Colored Women
Box 4: Miscellaneous
|Order of Microfilming|