Sketching Her Life in Pamphlets: a Bibliography of Ida B. Wells

Photograph of Ida B. Wells, circa 1893 by Sallie E. Garrity. National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Public domain.
Photograph of Ida B. Wells, circa 1893 by Sallie E. Garrity. National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Public domain.

Through her use of pamphlets to spread information, Ida B. Wells paved the way for her successors to fight for justice.

Ida B. Wells was a prominent anti-lynching activist, editor, journalist and researcher who worked to highlight the plight of African Americans in the South. She was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16, 1862, to James and Elizabeth Wells, a carpenter and famous cook in the region. Both of her parents were heavily involved in Reconstruction Era politics, and her father was a patron of what is now known as Rust College, a school for newly emancipated Black Americans. Wells’ father considered himself to be a “race man” and staunch supporter of the Republican party, sowing the seeds of Wells’ tenacious spirit. Tragically, yellow fever took both of Wells’ parents and one of her siblings’ lives. Friends and relatives insisted that she and her siblings be split up and sent to separate foster homes, but Wells resented the notion and became an educator at an all-black elementary school at age 14 in an effort to keep what remained of her family together. Years later, she moved out to Memphis, Tennessee to live with an aunt, where she studied at local universities and formed the basis for many of her political opinions.

In her adulthood, Wells successfully sued a railroad for requesting she move from the ladies car to the smoking car — the designated section of the car for African Americans at the time. The success of this suit sparked her interest in civil rights and journalism, prompting her to investigate lynch mobs and other instances of injustice in the legal system. She later published her research in pamphlets called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and All Its Phases and A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States, but before then she had discussed a lot of the ideas expressed in these pamphlets in her editorial work, published in the Evening Star’s weekly newspaper The Living Way, The Free Speech and Headlight (which she co-founded with J. L. Fleming), and the Chicago Conservator, her husband and prominent lawyer Ferdinand L. Barnett’s newspaper.

 Photograph of the Afro-American Council on July 19, 1902. The Appeal (Saint Paul, Minnesota). Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Public Domain.

For Wells, pamphlets were an easy way to distribute information to a wide range of people inexpensively, but they permitted a longer argument than a newspaper article. Pamphlets were easier to keep and reread, kind of like an inexpensive book. The pamphlet was an important medium for political discourse that began in the 18th century, and Wells capitalized on their growing prevalence in order to spread her message.

Wells continued to fight against injustice through other avenues. She organized a boycott of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition with Frederick Douglass and other prominent black leaders and published a pamphlet called The Reason Why: The Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was distributed to over 20,000 people at the fair. She was also heavily involved in women’s clubs, organizing The Women’s Era Club for African American women in Chicago and helping to start the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, where she pioneered the idea of intersectional feminism, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw over a century later. Over the years, Wells’ militancy became a threat to both the women’s rights movement and many male-centered African American rights movements. Regardless, her work was ahead of its time, and Wells is considered by many to have laid the framework for modern-day intersectional feminist and anti-racist movements. In this blog, I will be sketching a bibliography of her published pamphlets over the course of her life. The pamphlet was emphemeral — people tended to read and re-read them a few times, but discard them like newspapers. They were cheaper to publish than books, and it offered an immediate response to pressing issues at the time. Wells’ pamphlets were re-printed over the years because they were impactful.

Biography compiled from the following sources:

Encyclopedia Brittanica | American National Biography | National Women’s History Museum


Bibliography

Sourced via World Cat

First Editions

A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States by Ida B. Wells. Chicago, [1895].

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “A red record. Tabulated statistics and alleged causes of lynchings in the United States, 1892-1893-1894. Respectfully submitted to the nineteenth-century civilization in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” By Miss Ida B. Wells [title page].” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1894. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-8dbd-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Lynch law in Georgia: a six-weeks’ record in the center of southern civilization, as faithfully chronicled by the “Atlanta journal” and the Atlanta constitution.” Chicago, [1899].

https://lccn.loc.gov/91898209                         

Wells-Barnett, Ida B., 1862-1931. Lynch law in Georgia : a six-weeks’ record in the center of southern civilization, as faithfully chronicled by the “Atlanta journal” and the “Atlanta constitution” : also the full report of Louis P. Le Vin, the Chicago detective sent to investigate the burning of Samuel Hose, the torture and hanging of Elijah Strickland, the colored preacher, and the lynching of nine men for alleged arson / by Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Chicago : This pamphlet is circulated by Chicago colored citizens …, [1899]                                                               

18 p. ; 20 cm. E449 .D16 vol. 16, no. 12

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics by Ida B. Wells, Chicago, [1900].

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics. Place of publication not identified: n/a, 1900. n/a.

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law and all its Phases by Ida B. Wells. New York, 1892.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “Southern horrors ” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1892. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/868f8db7-fa74-d451-e040-e00a180630a7

The Reason Why: The Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition by Frederick Douglass, Irvine Garland Penn, Ida B. Wells, and Ferdinand L. Barnett. Chicago, 1893.

The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/mfd.25023/>.

To the members of the Anti-Lynching Bureau / Ida B. Wells-Barnett, chairman. Chicago, [1902].

https://lccn.loc.gov/91898226

Wells-Barnett, Ida B., 1862-1931. To the members of the Anti-Lynching Bureau / Ida B. Wells-Barnett, chairman. Chicago : Office of Anti-Lynching Bureau …, [1902]     1 sheet ([1] p.) ; 22 x 15 cm.     E449 .D16 vol. 17, no. 11

Later Editions

A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States

A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States by Ida B. Wells

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States, 1892-1893-1894. Cirencester [England: Echo Library/Paperbackshop Ltd, 2005. Print.

On lynchings : Southern horrors, A red record, Mob rule in New Orleans by Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. On Lynchings: Southern Horrors, a Red Record, Mob Rule in New Orleans. North Stratford, N.H: Ayer, 2006. Print.

“The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States” via The Project Gutenberg EBook

Wells, Ida B, et al. “The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States.” The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Red Record:, by Ida B. Wells-Barnett., http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14977/14977-h/14977-h.htm.

The Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett by Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Trudier Harris

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, and Trudier Harris. Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print.

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, and Other Lynching Statistics

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics by Ida B. Wells

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics. Place of publication not identified: Alpha Editions, 2018. Print.

Mob Rule in New Orleans 1900: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics by Ida B. Wells

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Mob Rule in New Orleans 1900: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics. Nashville, Ga: Indexed, Printed and Bound by Wayne and Judy Dasher, 2005. Print.

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics by Ida B. Wells via The Project Gutenberg EBook

Wells, Ida B. “MOB RULE IN NEW ORLEANS:” Edited by Suzanne Shell and Melissa Er-Raqabi, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mob Rule In New Orleans, by Ida B. Wells-Barnett., http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14976/14976-h/14976-h.htm.

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases

Selected works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett by Ida B. Wells, edited by Trudier Harris

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, and Trudier Harris. Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print.

“Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.” via The Project Gutenberg EBook

Wells, Ida B. “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.” Edited by Suzanne Shell and Melissa Er-Raqabi, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Southern Horrors: Lynch Law In All Its Phases, by Ida B. Wells-Barnett., http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14975/14975-h/14975-h.htm.

Southern horrors and other writings : the anti-lynching campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900 by Ida B. Wells, edited by Jacqueline J. Royster

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, and Jacqueline J. Royster. Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. , 2016. Print.

On lynchings : Southern horrors, A red record, Mob rule in New Orleans by Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. On Lynchings: Southern Horrors, a Red Record, Mob Rule in New Orleans. North Stratford, N.H: Ayer, 2006. Print.

The Reason Why: The Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition

The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition: The Afro-American’s Contribution to Columbian Literature by Ida B. Wells and Robert W. Rydell

Wells-Barnett, Ida B, and Robert W. Rydell. The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition: The Afro-American’s Contribution to Columbian Literature. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. Print.

“The Reason why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition” via The University of Pennsylvania’s Digital Library

Douglass, Frederick, et al. “THE REASON WHY.” The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition., digital.library.upenn.edu/women/wells/exposition/exposition.html.

“The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition: The Afro American Contribution to Columbian Literature” via Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Portwood, Shirley J. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1998-), vol. 93, no. 4, 2000, pp. 457–459. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40193465. Accessed 7 July 2020.

Archival Holdings

The Library of Congress has a few of Ida B. Wells’ pamphlets in their digital archive. Accessible here.

The New York Public Library also has copies of “A Red Record,” “United States Atrocities,” and a few photos in their digital collections archive. Accessible here.

The University of Chicago has curated a collection called “The Ida B. Wells Papers 1884-1976” that contains biographical materials, press clippings, writings, women’s club material. Accessible here.


Works Cited

“Ida B. Wells-Barnett.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Mar. 2020, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Ida-B-Wells-Barnett.

Norwood, Arlisha R. “Ida B. Wells-Barnett.” National Women’s History Museum, http://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ida-b-wells-barnett.

Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Collected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. United States: Pinnacle Press, 2017. Print.

“Wells-Barnett, Ida Bell (1862-1931), Editor and Antilynching Activist.” American National Biography, http://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1500924.

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