Matthews, Victoria Earle (1861–1907)

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Matthews, Victoria Earle (1861–1907)

African-American author and journalist . Name variations: (pseudonym) Victoria Earle. Born Victoria Earle Smith in Fort Valley, Georgia, on May 27, 1861; died of tuberculosis in New York City on March 10, 1907; interred at Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens, Long Island; one of nine children of Caroline Smith, a slave; according to family oral history, her birth father was her mother's slaveowner; attended Grammar School 48 in New York City; married William Matthews (a carriage driver), in 1876; children: one son, Lamartine.

The light-skinned Victoria Matthews wrote stories of her childhood for the Waverly magazine, the New York Weekly and the Family Story Paper. She told of her mother, Caroline Smith , who had escaped from her slave-owning master during the Civil War, only to return and find her daughters Victoria and Anna living in his home. According to family oral history, he was their birth father, and Caroline had to sue for custody. Moving to Virginia for four years, she then took her children to New York around 1873.

Victoria Matthews, who had been a fervent reader while growing up, freelanced for various newspapers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Brooklyn Eagle. She then became a full-time journalist for the New York Age. Matthews was the organizer behind the fund-raising testimonial for Ida Wells-Barnett and her anti-lynching crusade. Founder and first president of the Woman's Loyal Union, Matthews was also instrumental in forming women's clubs in New York City and Boston and was on the executive board of the National Federation of Afro-American Women.