A Poor Widow to Mrs. Woodrow Wilson





An anonymous writer complains that African-American women use the same washstands, toilets, and lunch rooms as white women at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.


Library of Congress, Wilson Papers, Series 4, 152A Reel 231, Manuscript Division


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum




Requires proofreading.


Digital copy acquired from federal archives by previous WWPL Archivist, Heidi Hackford.


Washington, D. C.

Mrs President Wilson

Dear Madam:-

We appeal to you for assistance, as conditions at the new bureau of Engraving and Printing are anything but pleasant. We have the following complaints to make: The negro women use our stationary wash-stands hang their wraps among ours and use the same toilets as we. Now, is that proper? I neglected to say they also use the same lunch room.

They should have their own lockers, their own wash room & their own toilet. As there is plenty of room.

I do not imagine they should hold positions in office, when there are lots of poor widows, whose husbands were soldiers in the civil war, who would be glad to have positions that the negro women have. It worries us very much such doings we cannot stomach them washing their black faces in our wash stand & drying them in our towels.

Please do not let Mr. Ralph know that one of his employes wrote this, for fear of dismissal. He dismisses us for the least thing that happens, that is the white girls, but the negroes do as they please. I will not sign my name for fear he might discharge me & I am a poor widow & have nothing else to support me.

P.S. Please do not let Ralph get hold of this, as he is acquainted with our handwriting.

A poor widow.

We think a great deal of you and the President, for you had the negro girls separated from the white when you came through, but it did not last long, for at present they are so pert and give back talk to the white girls. It is very humiliating, I assure you.

Original Format





Unknown, “A Poor Widow to Mrs. Woodrow Wilson,” 1914 March 20, CS06, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.