“The First Thing Every Negro Girl Does”: Black Beauty Culture, Racial Politics, and the Construction of Modern Black Womanhood, 1905–1925

  • Tiffany M. Gill


Adina Stewart, mother of international labor leader Maida Springer Kemp, known best for her work with the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union (ILGWU), realized shortly after immigrating to the United States that there were limited opportunities for black women in the labor force. Born in Panama, Adina Stewart was among the estimated 300,000 Caribbean people who immigrated to the United States between 1900 and 1930.1 Arriving at Ellis Island in 1917 along with her husband and seven-year- old daughter, the family settled in Harlem. Not long after, Stewart and her husband separated and she was faced with the challenge of raising her daughter on her own. Wanting her daughter to get an education and learn a trade that would eventually allow her to earn a living, Stewart enrolled her in the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in New Jersey in 1923 where Maida received a standard industrial education. For girls, this consisted of training in domestic science.


Black Woman Negro Woman Domestic Labor Negro Girl Black Business 
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Copyright information

© Elspeth H. Brown, Catherine Gudis, and Marina Moskowitz 2006

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  • Tiffany M. Gill

There are no affiliations available

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