Harriet E. Wilson’s life is a testament to perseverance, ingenuity and service.
Born free but orphaned young, Wilson was forced to work as an indentured servant until she was 18. She married but then her husband died and she had to care for her son as a single mother. She worked as a seamstress, servant and haircare entrepreneur before writing and publishing a novel to support her son.
Unfortunately, her son died shortly after the publication of her novel. Her son’s death certificate was the document that verified her identity as a Black woman over a hundred years later. She then became a Spiritualist medium, nurse, healer, children’s teacher and traveling speaker—lecturing on labor reform and children’s education.