Grace Bustill Douglass

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Grace Douglass (Bustill)

Birthplace: Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
Death: March 09, 1842 (59-60)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Cyrus Bustill and Elizabeth Bustill
Wife of Robert Douglass, Sr.
Mother of Robert Douglass, Jr.; Elizabeth Douglass and Sarah Mapps Douglass
Sister of Rachel Bowser; Mary Miller and David Bustill

Occupation: Educator, abolitionist, women's rights advocate, milliner, businessowner
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Grace Bustill Douglass

Grace Bustill Douglass (1782 – March 9, 1842) was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights advocate. Her family was one of the first prominent free black families in the United States. Her family's history is one of the best documented for a black family during this period, dating from 1732 until 1925.

Growing up in Philadelphia allowed Douglass and her siblings to attend one of the few schools for black children during her time. Douglass was also able to learn a trade, millinery. She opened up a milliner shop on Arch Street next to her father's bakery.

In 1803, at the age of 21, Douglass married Robert Douglass, a wealthy barber from the West Indies. They had six children together. Not much is known of four of her children, but Sarah and Robert Jr. are well documented. Elizabeth was their eldest daughter; she died young after attending a private school for a few years. Elizabeth was forced to leave the school after parents of the white students complained. This lead Douglass, along with family friend James Forten, to open up a school of their own. This school, along with private tutors, was where Sarah, Robert, and their other siblings all received their extensive educations. Sarah went on to become a famous abolitionist and teacher like her mother, and Robert was a well-known portrait painter.

Following in her family's footsteps, Douglass also became a devout Quaker. During this time, most Quakers were strong abolitionists, but many still followed segregationist customs. Her meetinghouse followed these customs, separating whites and blacks into separate sections. For this reason, all of Douglass's children, except Sarah, left the Friends and joined their father at the First African Presbyterian Church.

It was from her life of privilege that Douglass decided to dedicate her life to helping less fortunate people. Douglass and her daughter Sarah met and developed a close friendship with Lucretia Mott and the Grimké sisters, Angelina and Sarah. This friendship eventually led them to create the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society after they were not permitted to become members of the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia because they were women.

She was a member of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, an annual meeting of antislavery societies in the free states. In 1837 and 1839, Douglass was elected as vice president for the conventions held in New York. Although Douglass was a Quaker, she was also a delegate at the annual meeting in Philadelphia for the Second African Presbyterian Church, with her husband and her sister, Mary Bustill.

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Grace Bustill Douglass's Timeline

Burlington, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States
September 9, 1806
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
March 9, 1842
Age 60
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States