Harriet Davey Purvis

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Harriet Davey Purvis (Forten)

Birthdate: (65)
Death: 1875 (65)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of James Forten and Charlotte Forten
Wife of Robert Purvis
Sister of Margaretta Forten; Sgt. Robert Bridges Forten; Sarah Louisa Purvis; Charlotta Forten; William Deas Forten and 3 others

Occupation: an abolitionist who believed in integration of the races
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Harriet Davey Purvis

Harriet, married the abolitionist Robert Puvis and was active in the anti-slavery movement [Encyclopedia of Black America, 391]


Abolitionist and suffragist. With her husband Robert, she was a leader of the Underground Railroad. She was a founding member of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and a leading member of the city's Female Vigilant Society, which provided aid and transport to runaway slaves. In 1876, she became the first African-American woman to be elected vice president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. She was the daughter of James Forten, a sailmaker and abolitionist (1766-1842) and Charlotte Vandine Forten, a teacher (1785-1884). Mother of William P. Purvis (1832-1857), Robert Purvis, Jr. (1834-1862), Joseph Parrish Purvis (1836-1851), Harriet Purvis (1839-1905), Dr. Charles Burleigh Purvis (1842-1929), Henry William Purvis (1843-1907), Granville Sharp Purvis (1846-1911), and Georgianna Purvis (1850-1877). In addition to her own children, Harriet also raised her niece, Charlotte Forten Grimké, following the death of Charlotte's mother.

"In 1832, Purvis married Harriet Davy Forten, a woman of color and the daughter of wealthy sailmaker James Forten and his wife Charlotte, both prominent abolitionists and leaders in Philadelphia." ~ wikipedia

"The Purvises had eight children, including son Charles Burleigh Purvis (1841-1926). He became a surgeon and professor for 30 years in the medical school at Howard University. In addition, the couple raised Harriet's niece, Charlotte Forten Grimké, after her mother died. In her later life, Harriet Forten Purvis lectured publicly against segregation and for expanded suffrage for all citizens.

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Harriet Davey Purvis's Timeline

Age 65