Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (October 9, 1823 – June 5, 1893) was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada.[1][2] 

She was also the first black woman to attend law school in the US. Mary Shadd edited The Provincial Freeman, established in 1853. Published weekly in southern Ontario, it advocated equality, integration and self-education for black people in Canada and the United States.[3][4]

Mary’s family was involved in the Underground Railroad assisting those fleeing slavery. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, her family relocated to Canada. She returned to the United States during the American Civil War where she recruited soldiers for the Union.

Self-taught, Mary went to Howard University Law School, and continued advocacy for civil rights for African Americans and women for the rest of her life.

Shadd Cary joined the National Woman Suffrage Association, working alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for women’s suffrage, testifying before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, and becoming the first African-American woman to vote in a national election.[29]

“Wikiwand – Mary Ann Shadd.” Wikiwand,

Black History in Canada:
Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd – The Black teacher who owned her own newspaper

The goal of #ShareTheirStory is to change the way we talk about history in Canada by bringing the stories of five historic Black entrepreneurs into the discussion. Learn about what it was like for these individuals to follow their entrepreneurial spirit. Do you see yourself in their stories? Make a difference.

Mary Ann Shadd Revisited

Mary Ann Shadd Revisited: Echoes from an Old House Allison Margot Smith


Podcast on Mary Ann Shadd Cary

SYMHC Classics: Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Listen to this episode from Stuff You Missed in History Class on Spotify. Revisiting our 2016 episode on black Canadian-American Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who became the first woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper. She advocated against slavery, for better lives for free black people, and for women’s rights.


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