Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry

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Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry
Photo of Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry.jpg
Born1872 (1872)
Rochester, New York
DiedOctober 23, 1943(1943-10-23) (aged 70–71)
Kansas City, Missouri
Occupation Activist, Philanthropist
Spouse(s)John E. Perry

Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry (1872 – October 23, 1943) was an American philanthropist and activist. Perry founded the Colored Big Sister Home for Girls in 1934 in Kansas City, Missouri. With her husband, John E. Perry, she worked to provide better health care to African-American children. [1]

Early life and education

Perry was born in Rochester, New York, in 1872. [2] [3] She was the daughter of Rosetta Douglass and granddaughter of Frederick Douglass [4] She was the fifth oldest child of the seven children of Rosetta Douglass Sprague and Nathan Sprague. [5] She attended public school in Washington, DC, and then the Mechanics Institute in Rochester, New York. [3]


In 1906, she moved to Missouri, where she taught home economics at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. [3] [2] After her marriage to Dr. John E. Perry in 1912, founder of the Wheatley Provident Hospital (previously called the Perry Sanitarium), the first private hospital for Black people in Kansas City, she moved to Kansas City to work with her husband at the hospital. [5]

Perry became involved in the African-American women's clubs movement. Perry had been a juvenile court worker, and she was specifically concerned with rectifying the harsh treatment of dependent adolescent children of color who were often placed in a state institution for juvenile delinquents until they reached their majority. [6] In 1923, she initiated the formation of the Missouri State Association of Colored Girls, sponsored by the senior women’s association; Kansas City was one of the first cities to have such a group. [5]

In 1934, with the help of Kansas City Federation of Colored Women’s Club, she founded the Colored Big Sister Home for Girls. [7] [6] Fredericka also served as the chairperson of the National Association of Colored Girls. She composed the words of the state song "Show Me"; and the motto "Learning As We Climb" for the Missouri State Association of Colored Girls. [5]

Perry also help found the Civic Protective Association in Kansas City, served as a trustee of the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, and was a member of the John Brown Memorial Association. [3]

Personal life

In 1912 she married Dr. John E. Perry, with whom she had one son. [3] Perry died on October 23, 1943, at Wheatley-Provident Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. [2]


  1. ^ Douglas, Miriam Forman-Brunell, editor (2001). Girlhood in America: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 29. ISBN  978-1576072066.
  2. ^ a b c "Granddaughter Of Frederick Douglass Dies In Missouri". The Pittsburgh Courier. November 6, 1943.
  3. ^ a b c d e Peebles-Wilkins, Wilma (July 26, 2016). "Black Women and American Social Welfare: The Life of Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry". Affilia. 4 (1): 33–44. doi: 10.1177/088610998900400104.
  4. ^ Vaughn, Valeria. "Descendants of Frederick Douglass". US GenWeb Archives. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Peebles-Wilkins, Wilma (1989). "Black Women and American Social Welfare: The Life of Fredricka Douglas Sprague Perry". Affilia. 4: 33–44. doi: 10.1177/088610998900400104.
  6. ^ a b Peebles-Wilkins, Wilma. "Historical Perspectives on Social Welfare in the Black Community (1886-1939)". Boston University. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  7. ^ "Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry (1872-1943): Child Welfare Pioneer". Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved February 14, 2018.