Josephine Cogdell

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Josephine Cogdell

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Granbury, Hood County, Texas, United States
Death: Died in New York, New York County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Daniel Calhoun Cogdell and Lucy Norfleet Duke
Wife of George Samuel Schuyler
Ex-wife of Jack J. Lewis
Mother of Phillipa Duke Schuyler
Sister of Gaston Cogdell; Daysie Norfleet Cogdell; Alma Cogdell; Earl Cogdell; Zuma Cogdell and 2 others

Managed by: Amber Maloney
Last Updated:

About Josephine Cogdell

Youngest of the seven children of Daniel Calhoun Cogdell and Lucy Norfleet Duke.

Married, first, Jack Lewis in 1913. Married, second, George Samuel Schuyler on January 6, 1928. One daughter by her second marriage, Philippa.

Born in Texas in 1897 to a wealthy family, Schuyler left for California after the brief marriage she had entered at sixteen ended. There, she spent time as a Max Sennett bathing beauty and a ballet dancer in a San Francisco opera company.

Eventually, she made her way to bohemian Greenwich Village. In New York, she met George Schuyler, then on his way to becoming the best-known black journalist in the country. They married in 1928 and had a daughter, Philippa. Both believed strongly in the theory of hybrid vigor and felt that children produced by interracial unions would inherit the strengths of both races. Philippa seemed to bear out her parents' theories; her IQ was measured at 185 when she was only five years old. She became a piano prodigy and much later, a journalist. Together, they were profiled in national magazines as "America's Strangest Family"; nevertheless, Josephine successfully kept her marriage and mixed-race daughter secret from her Texas family.

Shunned by blacks and whites alike, Josephine found herself isolated in the family's Harlem apartment, transformed by her radical interracial marriage into a conventional housewife. She reclaimed some voice for herself by writing an advice column — as a black woman — for The Pittsburgh Courier, the nation's largest black newspaper. She was also a poet and a painter, and served as her pianist daughter's manager.

When daughter Philippa died in 1967 in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, her funeral was one of the grandest Harlem ever saw. Her silver casket was borne through crowded streets all the way to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Josephine took her own life a week before the second anniversary of her daughter's death.

She is featured in literary scholar Carla Kaplan's book "Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance" (2013).

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Josephine Cogdell's Timeline

1897
June 1897
Granbury, Hood County, Texas, United States
1931
August 2, 1931
Age 34
New York, NY, USA
1969
May 2, 1969
Age 71
New York, New York County, New York, United States
May 2, 1969
Age 71