Center for Archival Collections

Reference Services | Manuscripts by Subject | Purchasing Microfilm | CAC Homepage

Ella P. Stewart Collection - MS 203

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series DescriptionInventory
Microfilm Edition | Photographs

 Introduction

The scrapbooks of Ella P. Stewart, one of the earliest African-American women pharmacists in the United States, span from the 1920s to the 1980s. The collection documents Mrs. Stewart's accomplishments, interests and honors as preserved by herself, thus giving insight into her life not only as a pharmacist in the city of Toledo, Ohio, but also as a business woman, clubwoman, civic reformer, goodwill ambassador, civil rights leader, and women's rights advocate. A two hour interview of Mrs. Stewart documenting her history is also included with the scrapbooks, as well as information on the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the Pan-Pacific Southeast Asia Women's Association (PPSEWA) and the Ella P. Stewart School.

The collection was donated and transferred to the Center for Archival Collections in 1982 by Ella P. Stewart in coordination with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant project designed to collect women's records within the northwest Ohio region. The collection is open to the public and duplication is permitted for research purposes. The register was prepared by Susan Irwin in June 1992 and revised by Louise Turner in May 2002.

 Biographical Sketch

Ella Nora Phillips Stewart was born on March 6, 1893 in Stringtown, West Virginia. Though she grew up in the era of sanctioned segregation, her abilities were such that she felt she could overcome those hurdles and did so with a career and life that spanned ninety-four years. With a love of nature and an exceptional interest in learning, she attended high school at the age of twelve at the Storer College - the only school in the region that accepted black students. Rather than continue her training and education as a teacher, she chose to marry Charles Myers and begin a family. She had one child, a daughter, who unfortunately died at a young age from whooping cough. Advised by friends to turn her attention to new concerns, Stewart began working as a bookkeeper at a local pharmacy, where she developed an interest in becoming a pharmacist herself. Stewart wished to attend the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy but was met with discrimination when she was told admissions were closed. She persisted however, and although segregated from other students, she graduated with high marks passing her state exam in 1916, to become the first licensed African-American female pharmacist in Pennsylvania and one of the earliest practicing African-American female pharmacists in the country. 1

Stewart worked in Pittsburgh and then Braddock, Pennsylvania where she was employed at the General Hospital and managed a drugstore. Her hard work enabled her to purchase the drugstore but the pressure of business affected her marriage and health. Ella divorced her husband, but after purchasing another drugstore she was forced to move back home because of her ill health. She left her business in the hands of a fellow graduate of the School of Pharmacy, William Stewart, whom she married in 1920.

The Stewarts moved to Youngstown, Ohio and Ella, again overcoming discrimination, applied and was hired for a pharmacist position at a local hospital which was advertised as being open only to whites. Her employment was a breakthrough and helped influence the elimination of discriminatory practices at the hospital. After a while the Stewarts moved to Detroit where Ella took up house keeping, but she soon became bored. She learned that there were no black-owned drugstores in Toledo, Ohio, so she traveled to Toledo, purchased a commercial building and in 1922, William and Ella opened the Stewart's Pharmacy. The business did well and was welcomed by the neighborhood. As Ella became more important in the community she became more and more interested in the problems that it faced. She became involved in the Enterprise Charity Club, a black women's philanthropic club which provided assistance to Toledo families. Through her work with this club, Stewart developed a reputation of leadership that led to her eventual election in 1944 as President of the Ohio Association of Colored Women and from 1948 to 1952, as President of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW).

Under Stewart's direction and through her many speeches, meetings with legislators in Washington, and news articles, the NACW lobbied effectively for many progressive measures: passage of anti-lynching and anti-poll tax legislation, fair employment practices legislation, equal opportunity for housing and education, the support of black-owned businesses, and the development and expansion of endowment and scholarship funds for young black women. Stewart was also involved in local affairs as a member of the Toledo League of Women Voters (the first African-American member), the League of City Mothers, the Toledo Council of Churches, and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA).

Because of her outstanding leadership, she was chosen in 1952 to be a delegate to the International Conference of Women of the World. From 1952 through the mid-1960s, she served as Vice President and International Vice President at Large of the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association, an organization established to strengthen peace efforts by promoting understanding and friendship among Asian women. In 1963 she was appointed as Commissioner for the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and continued her travels throughout the world. For Ella, her most cherished achievement and honor was the naming of a Toledo elementary school after her; a school she visited often, serving as a role model to its young students.

Despite Stewart's extensive club work and numerous honors, she was continually met with the discrimination she had worked all her life to end. She never accepted the racism she found, instead, she succeeded in her own quiet way to overcome it. Ironically, even when she decided to move to a retirement complex in 1980, she encountered difficulties and small minds. Eventually she was accepted, loved, and appreciated for who she was. In 1987, Ella P. Stewart passed away but left a legacy not only for African-American women and men, but for people everywhere, and a challenge to live by her motto, "Fight for human dignity and world peace."

1 See Metta Lou Henderson, American Women Pharmacists: Contributions to the Profession, (New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2002), 27. In much of the biographical information on Ella Stewart, she is noted as being the first African-American woman practicing pharmacist in the United States, however according to Henderson's book, this is not accurate.

 Scope and Content

The Ella P. Stewart Collection consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, printed materials and photographs, spanning from the 1920s to the mid-1980s, which focus on her life as one of the earliest African-American women pharmacists in the United States and as an advocate for civil and women's rights. The bulk of the collection consists of information from Ella Stewart's scrapbooks which cover many topics associated with black history and women's history and include newspaper clippings, photographs, and programs from conferences and banquets. Some of the events covered include her induction into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame (1978), the receipt of her Honorary Doctorate from the University of Toledo (1974), events of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the Pan-Pacific Women's Association (PPWA), and information on the Ella P. Stewart Elementary School. Other information from her scrapbooks consist of topics of interest to Mrs. Stewart, such as world events, black entertainers, and women and black leaders she admired. One scrapbook is in microfilm format.

The collection also includes some miscellaneous correspondence, minutes, handbooks, the constitution and bylaws of the NACW, conference proceedings of the PPWA, materials associated with the Ella P. Stewart School and a scrapbook about Ella P. Stewart given to her as a birthday present. Also included is a two-hour taped oral interview with Mrs. Stewart in which she documents her own history.

The collection not only gives insight into Mrs. Stewart's interests and concerns but also her own personal feelings about certain topics. In several of her scrapbooks she writes her own editorial comments about how she feels about the subjects she is collecting. This, however, is not the case throughout the entire collection, as certain parts have scattered entries and unclear dates. Overall this collection gives insight into the life of an internationally-known woman who had the courage to overcome the racism she found and worked hard to improve the world around her.

 Series Description

PERSONAL PAPERS

BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL FILES
1910-1987, n.d. scattered
Arranged by subject and chronologically
Includes articles, biographical notes, resume, news clippings, obituaries, oral history, photographs, negatives, certificates, identification cards, 90th birthday celebration cards and notes

CORRESPONDENCE
1922-1987
Arranged by record type and chronologically
Includes correspondence, cards, invitations, poems

PELHAM MANOR
1981
Arranged chronologically
Includes programs, photographs and news clippings

PHARMACY
1922-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes photographs, news clippings, publicity and a microfilmed scrapbook about her early career as a pharmacist

HONORS AND AWARDS

ELLA P. STEWART SCHOOL
1960-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings on dedication and opening, testimonial dinner programs, correspondence, information on school events, leaflets, publications, newsletters, information on school museum, photographs and invitations

EDUCATIONAL HONORS
1944-1974
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, correspondence, invitations, programs for various awards and honors given to Stewart as well as awards she and her husband established. Includes scrapbooks documenting her honorary degree from the University of Toledo

TEMPLE B'NAI MEDAL
1967-1973
Arranged chronologically
Includes programs, news clippings and correspondence

NORTHWEST OHIO/OHIO WOMAN'S AND SENIOR CITIZENS HALL OF FAME
1978,1985
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, booklets, hall of fame entry, correspondence, and scrapbook

MISCELLANEOUS HONORS
1952-1984
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, invitations, programs and news clippings for various honors received by Stewart

CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS

ENTERPRISE CHARITY CLUB
1933, 1940
Arranged chronologically
Includes information about Stewart's involvement with this Club as well as a program booklet

YWCA/YMCA
1928, 1930, 1948, 1956, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, newsletters, correspondence

FEDERATED WOMEN'S CLUBS
1947-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes for city, state and regional associations, programs, news clippings, brochures, publications, and photographs

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (TOLEDO)
1954
Arranged chronologically
Includes brochure and news clipping

LEAGUE OF CITY MOTHERS (TOLEDO)
1964, 1974
Arranged chronologically
Includes news clippings, brochure, invitation

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COLORED WOMEN

ELLA STEWART'S PRESIDENCY
1948-mid-1950s
Arranged chronologically
Includes photographs, newsclippings, details of activities, correspondence, prayers and calendar, minutes and constitution of 1950 Biennial Session of NACW, scrapbooks and various publications (some dated prior to 1948). Also includes scrapbook on the International Congress of Women held in Greece in 1951 which Stewart attended representing NACW

NACW PUBLICATIONS
1978-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes various NACW publications

INTERNATIONAL WORK

COMMITTEE FOR THE ARRIVAL IN TOLEDO OF THE KING AND QUEEN OF GREECE
1953
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, itinerary and program

STATE DEPARTMENT TOUR OF FAR EAST
1953-1956
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, invitations, newsclippings, photographs, articles and scrapbook

TOLEDO CHAPTER OF PAN PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION
1957-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes newsclippings, leaflets, details of events, correspondence

UNITED STATES CHAPTER OF PAN PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION
1955-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, leaflets, newsclippings, programs

PAN PACIFIC SOUTH EAST ASIA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES
1955, 1958, 1961, 1964, 1968, 1975, 1978
Arranged chronologically
Includes photographs, correspondence, program books, invitations, news clippings and scrapbook of Conferences held in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Tonga, Honolulu, Korea and Samoa

VISIT FROM HAITIAN AMBASSADOR
1970
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, invitation, newsclippings

UNITED NATIONS WORK
1957-1968, 1979, 1981
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, publications

TOLEDO COUNCIL OF WORLD AFFAIRS
1955, 1957, 1968
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, brochures, news clippings

PORT OF TOLEDO
1960-1969 (scattered)
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence

VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS AND ISSUES
1972-1986 (scattered)
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, invitations, news clippings

CLUBS AND INTERESTS

TOLEDO BOARD OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS
1961-1972
Arranged chronologically
Includes newsclippings, publications, correspondence and brochures

GREATER TOLEDO COMMUNITY CHEST
1953, 1961
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence

JACK AND JILL FOUNDATION OF AMERICA
1979, 1984
Arranged chronologically
Includes newsletter and news clipping

LINQUES NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER
1980
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence

LOCAL AND NATIONAL POLITICAL ISSUES AND APPOINTMENTS
1942, 1945 1951-1978, 1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, articles

AGING/OLDER AMERICANS COMMITTEE WORK
1960-1961, 1970, 1985, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, photographs, news clippings, invitations, issues facing the elderly, also includes her work with the White House Committee on Aging

SORORITY WORK
1937-1983, n.d. (scattered)
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, invitations and leaflets

EDUCATION INTERESTS AND ISSUES
1940-1986
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, invitations

CHURCH WORK
1930-1982, n.d. (scattered)
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, brochures, prayers, publications

RACE AND WORK ISSUES

VIRGINIA CONTROVERSY
1957
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, news clippings, programs, photographs documenting Virginia's discrimination of Stewart and her subsequent honors by Toledo and Lucas County

FREDERICK DOUGLASS ASSOCIATION WORK
1945-1973
Arranged chronologically
Includes correspondence, brochures, news clippings, photographs

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
1983-1984, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes song, correspondence, news clippings, invitations

AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ACHIEVEMENTS
1930-1984, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes projects, correspondence, booklets, invitations, scrapbooks

RACE ISSUES
1951-1987
Arranged chronologically
Includes booklet, news clippings and scrapbooks

 Inventory

Box 1

Folders
  1. Biographical data, scattered dates
  2. Personal information, scattered dates
  3. Personal information, 1910-1987 (scattered)
  4. 90th birthday celebration, 1983
  5. Correspondence, 1922-1987
  6. Correspondence-birthday and get well cards, 1984, 1987
  7. Correspondence-invitations, 1952, 1971-1984 (scattered)
  8. Correspondence-poems written to or by Ella, 1950s-1970s
  9. Pelham Manor, 1981
  10. Pharmacy Business, 1920s-1985

Box 2

Folders
  1. Ella Stewart School, 1960-1987
  2. Ella Stewart School-dedication scrapbook, 1961-1974
  3. Educational Honors/Awards, 1944-1970
  4. Honorary Degree from University of Toledo, 1974
  5. Scrapbook
  6. Scrapbook
    (one scrapbook in oversize box)

Box 3

Folders
  1. Temple B'nai Medal, 1967-1973
  2. Northwest Ohio/Ohio Woman's and Senior Citizens' Hall of Fame, 1978, 1985
  3. Miscellaneous Honors, 1952-1984
  4. Enterprise Charity Club, c. 1933, 1940
  5. YWCA/YMCA, 1928, 1930, 1948, 1956, n.d.
  6. Toledo/Ohio Federation of Colored Women Clubs 1947-1954, 1986, 1987
  7. League of Women Voters, 1954
  8. League of City Mothers, 1964
  9. National Association of Colored Women-Stewart's Presidency, 1948-mid-1950s
  10. National Association of Colored Women-Biennial Session-minutes and constitution, 1950
  11. National Association of Colored Women-publications 1926-1952
  12. National Association of Colored Women-publications, 1978-1987

Box 4

Folders
  1. Committee for the Arrival in Toledo-the King and Queen of Greece, 1953
  2. State Department Tour of Far East, 1953-1956
  3. Toledo Chapter of the Pan Pacific South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA), 1957-1987
  4. US Chapter of the PPSEAWA, 1955-1987
  5. 7TH PPSEAWA International Conference-Philippines, 1955
  6. 8th PPSEAWA International Conference-Japan, 1958
  7. 9th PPSEAWA International Conference-Australia, 1961
  8. 10th PPSEAWA International Conference-Tonga, 1964
  9. 11th PPSEAWA International Conference-Honolulu, 1968
  10. Visit from Haitian Ambassadors, 1970
  11. 13th PPSEAWA International Conference-Korea, 1975
  12. 14th PPSEAWA International Conference-Samoa, 1978

Box 5

Folders
  1. United Nations Work, 1957-1968, 1979, 1981
  2. Toledo Council on World Affairs, 1955, 1957, 1968
  3. Port of Toledo, 1960-1969, scattered
  4. Various International Concerns and Events, 1972-1986, scattered
  5. Toledo Board of Community Relations, 1961-1972
  6. Greater Toledo Community Chest, 1953, 1961
  7. Jack and Jill Foundation of America, 1979, 1984
  8. Linques Neighborhood Center, 1980
  9. Political issues-local and national, 1952-1978, 1987 (scattered)
  10. Appointments to Government committees, 1942, 1945, (1951), 1953, 1957
  11. Aging/Older Americans-committee work, 1960-1961, 1970, 1985, n.d.
  12. Sorority Work, 1937-1983, n.d. (scattered)
  13. Education Interests and Issues, 1940-1986 (scattered)
  14. Church Work, 1930-1982, n.d. (scattered)
  15. Virginia Controversy, 1957
  16. Frederick Douglass Association, 1945-1973
  17. National Association for the Advancement of Colored, 1983-1984, n.d.
  18. African American History and Heritage, 1930-1984, n.d.
  19. African American Achievements, n.d.
  20. Race Issues, 1951-1987, n.d. (scattered)

Box 6

Folders
  1. Microfilm of scrapbook, 1922-1985
  2. Scrapbook-Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, 1978
  3. Scrapbook-Ohio Women's Hall of Fame and Ohio Senior Citizen's Hall of Fame, 1978

Box 7

Folders
  1. Scrapbook-State Department sponsored tour of Far East (Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines), 1954-1955
  2. Scrapbook-articles on Joe Louis and black entertainers 1981, various dates
  3. Scrapbook-articles on black entertainers, n.d.
  4. Scrapbook-articles on various subjects, 1982

Box 8

Folders

  1. Oral interview tapes and transcript, 1984
  2. Photographic copy prints, 1907-1945, n.d.
  3. Photographic negatives, 1907-1945, n.d.

Oversize Box 1

  1. Scrapbook-National Association of Colored Women, 1933-1956
  2. Oversize loose pages-National Association of Colored Women, 1933
  3. Scrapbook-National Association of Colored Women, 1950-1952
  4. Scrapbook-International Congress of Women, Greece, 1951
  5. Scrapbook-PPSEAWA Conference-Tonga, 1964
  6. Scrapbook-Honorary Degree-University of Toledo, 1974
  7. Scrapbook-Articles on race issues, 1950s-1982
  8. William Stewart-Certificate appointing him Captain in the Ohio National Guard, 1924

 Microfilm Edition

Roll 1

  1. Biographical data, scattered dates
  2. Personal information, 1910-1987 (scattered)
  3. Correspondence, 1922-1987
  4. Pelham Manor, 1981
  5. Pharmacy Business, 1920s-1985
  6. Ella Stewart School, 1960-1987
  7. Ella Stewart School-dedication scrapbook, 1961-1974
  8. Educational Honors and Awards, 1944-1970
  9. Honorary Degree from University of Toledo (2 scrapbooks), 1974
  10. Temple B'nai Medal, 1967-1973
  11. Northwest Ohio/Ohio Woman's and Senior Citizens' Hall of Fame, 1978, 1985
  12. Miscellaneous Honors, 1952-1984
  13. Enterprise Charity Club, c. 1933, 1940
  14. YWCA/YMCA, 1928, 1930, 1948, 1956, n.d.
  15. Toledo/Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, 1947-1954, 1986, 1987
  16. League of Women Voters, 1954
  17. League of City Mothers, 1964
  18. National Association of Colored Women-Stewart's Presidency, 1948-mid 1950s
  19. National Association of Colored Women-Biennial Session-minutes and constitution, 1950

Roll 2

  1. National Association of Colored Women-publications, 1926-1952
  2. Committee for the Arrival in Toledo-the King and Queen of Greece, 1953
  3. State Department Tour of Far East, 1953-1956
  4. Toledo Chapter of the Pan Pacific South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA), 1957-1987
  5. US Chapter of the PPSEAWA, 1955-1987
  6. 7TH PPSEAWA International Conference-Philippines, 1955
  7. 8th PPSEAWA International Conference-Japan, 1958
  8. 9th PPSEAWA International Conference-Australia, 1961
  9. 10th PPSEAWA International Conference-Tonga, 1964
  10. 11th PPSEAWA International Conference-Honolulu, 1968
  11. Visit from Haitian Ambassadors, 1970
  12. 13th PPSEAWA International Conference-Korea, 1975
  13. 14th PPSEAWA International Conference-Samoa, 1978
  14. United Nations Work, 1957-1968, 1979, 1981
  15. Toledo Council on World Affairs, 1955, 1957, 1968
  16. Port of Toledo, 1960-1969, scattered
  17. Various International Concerns and Events, 1972-1986, scattered
  18. Toledo Board of Community Relations, 1961-1972
  19. Greater Toledo Community Chest, 1953, 1961
  20. Jack and Jill Foundation of America, 1979, 1984
  21. Linques Neighborhood Center, 1980
  22. Political issues-local and national, 1952-1978, 1987 (scattered)
  23. Appointments to Government committees, 1942, 1945, (1951), 1953, 1957
  24. Aging/Older Americans-committee work, 1960-1961, 1970, 1985, n.d.
  25. Sorority Work, 1937-1983, n.d. (scattered)
  26. Education Interests and Issues, 1940-1986 (scattered)
  27. Church Work, 1930-1982, n.d. (scattered)
  28. Virginia Controversy, 1957
  29. Frederick Douglass Association, 1945-1973
  30. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1983-1984, n.d.
  31. African American History and Heritage, 1930-1984, n.d.

Roll 3

  1. Scrapbook-State Department sponsored tour of Far East (Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines), 1954-1955
  2. Scrapbook-articles on Joe Louis and black entertainers, 1981, various dates
  3. Scrapbook-articles on black entertainers, n.d.
  4. Scrapbook-National Association of Colored Women, 1933-1956
  5. Oversize loose pages-National Association of Colored Women, 1933
  6. Scrapbook-National Association of Colored Women, 1950-1952
  7. Scrapbook-International Congress of Women, Greece, 1951
  8. Scrapbook-PPSEAWA Conference in Tonga, 1964
  9. Scrapbook-Articles on race issues, 1950s-1982

Manuscripts by Subject | Multicultural Collections |  Women's Studies Collections | MS 203 - Photographs