This biographical sketch of Estelle Hall Young first appeared on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by courtesy of the publisher, Alexander Street.
Estelle Hall Young (1856 – 1938)
A longtime anti-racist activist who urged women to vote and be counted
By Ashley Brooks, undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park
West Baltimore civic Leader, suffragist and DuBois Circle member
Estelle Hall Young was born in Georgia in 1884. She attended Spelman College and Atlanta University, where she studied to be a teacher. While at Spelman, she learned from W.E.B. DuBois, who taught there from 1897 to 1910. She was a teacher in Atlanta until she moved to Baltimore in 1905 and married Dr. Howard E. Young, the owner of Baltimore’s first African-American-owned and-operated pharmacy.
Estelle and Howard Young had three children, two sons and one daughter. Their daughter, Nellie Louise Young, studied at Howard University. Louise Young finished her undergraduate studies at Howard in three years. After graduating from Howard University’s School of Medicine in 1930, Louise Young became the first black woman to be licensed to practice medicine in the state of Maryland.
Estelle Young was president of Baltimore’s Colored Women’s Suffrage Club when it formed in 1915. Young eventually led weekly meetings of the organization at the headquarters of Baltimore’s Colored Young Women’s Christian Association. She was eager for black women to register to vote the first day they were eligible, which was September 21, 1920. Black women faced a layer of difficulty to get the vote that white women did not. Some Maryland politicians even attempted to take away women’s right to vote through a lawsuit against the Nineteenth Amendment in part because they did not want black women at the polls. In response, Young said, “We women are especially bitter against the type of white politicians who said that we would not know a ballot if we saw one coming up the street. We must register in order to vote, and we must vote in order to rebuke these politicians.” Young was also active beyond Baltimore, helping to organize black suffragists in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Estelle Young was engaged in many organizations other than the Colored Women’s Suffrage Association. She was a member of the National Association of Colored Women through the affiliated Maryland Federation of Christian Women, which Young helped to convince to support woman suffrage in 1915. Young was also an active member of the DuBois Circle in Baltimore and often hosted meetings at her home at 1100 Druid Avenue. The DuBois Circle was an organization of prominent black women, who discussed black literature and history as well as public policies. Members of the DuBois Circle, including Young, publicly voiced their support of woman suffrage. As Estelle Young had been a student of DuBois herself, she worked to arrange a visit by DuBois to the Circle. Young also wrote to DuBois in the 1930s to advocate for her daughter, Dr. Louise Young, as a conference for doctors was to occur at the White House that she believed her daughter should attend.
The first historically Black Methodist Church in Baltimore, the Sharp Street Methodist Episcopal Church, organized a Woman’s Day in 1918, and Young was asked to speak at this event. Her father-in-law, Alfred Young, was the pastor of this church. Alfred Young had been born a slave in Cambridge, Maryland and was emancipated at the age of 17. As a slave, he had been taught how to read and write, allowing him later to pursue an education in theology at Howard University.
The Youngs were consistently active within the community and fought for civil rights in Maryland. Howard and Estelle Young sought, for instance, to test housing segregation laws in Baltimore in 1913 by purchasing a house in a white neighborhood. They insisted that they would move into the house if the black community would support them by helping to pay the fines the city could levy because they would be violating its residential segregation laws. Apparently, financial support was not forthcoming, and the Youngs rented the house to a white family. Both of the Youngs were members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In the 1930s, Estelle Young was given an Award of Honor from the NAACP’s Maryland State Conference of Branches. She was cited for “meritorious service in the cause of obtaining justice and full citizenship rights.” She was also active in the Republican Party in the 1920s and 1930s and lobbied her U.S senators to support anti-lynching legislation.
When Estelle Young died in August 1938, she was, according to the Afro-American, the state examiner of beauticians. She is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, the largest African-American cemetery in Baltimore, alongside her husband and daughter. The Youngs, Estelle, Howard, and Louise, advocated for equality in voting, housing, and health care.
Colored Professional, Clerical and Business Directory of Baltimore City, 521 (1943-44)
Archives of Maryland Online. http://aomol.msa.maryland.gov/000001/000521/html/am521–23.html
Display Ad 2 No Title Afro-American,June 21, 1918. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
“Dr. Young Will Expect All to Help.” Afro-American,December 6, 1913. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
“DuBois Circle.” Afro-American,October 26, 1912. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
“DuBois Circle Meets.” Afro-American,January 20, 1917. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
DuBois Circle Records. Private Collection
“For Mothers.” Afro-American,May 14, 1938. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
Helmes, Winfred G. Notable Maryland Women. Centreville, Maryland. Tidewater Publishers, 1977
“Ladies Discuss Suffrage.” Afro-American, November 25, 1911
Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
Louise Young Photograph & Manuscript Collection. H. Furlong Baldwin Library. Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
“Mrs. Estelle Young Dies.” Afro-American,August 20, 1938. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Award of Honor. H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
“Plan Meeting to Aid Women.” Afro-American,September 3, 1920. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
Goldsborough, Senator Phillips to Mrs. Howard E. Young. February 22, 1934. Louise Young Photograph and Manuscript Collection. H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland
“Suffragettes Hold Big Mass Meeting.” Afro-American,December 11, 1915. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
“Suffragettes to Meet.” Afro-American,October 30, 1915. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
“Women Hold Annual Session; Maryland Federation of Christian Women.” Afro-American,November 6, 1915. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Afro-American
Young, Estelle to W. E. B. DuBois. January 29, 1931. W.E.B. DuBois Papers. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries