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Wed, 06.23.1897

Josephine Schuyler, Author born

Josephine Schuyler

*Josephine Schuyler was born on this date in 1897.  She was a white-American author and poet.  

From Granbury, Hood County, Texas, Josephine Cogdell was born into a wealthy family, the youngest of the seven children of Daniel Calhoun Cogdell and Lucy Norfleet Duke.   She was a white woman born to great wealth and privilege in Granbury, Texas. 

She was the granddaughter of Granbury’s bank founder and bank president.  He also owned many, many, I don’t even know how many hundreds or thousands of heads of cattle and many, many acres.  The family had a great deal of money.  She was always determined to run away from the life that she saw laid out before her in Texas.  The life she was expected to lead was one in which she would marry a man of her social class and she would direct the household staff and she would do a little bit of philanthropy and arrange dinners.  She said, “Uh-uh, this isn’t nearly interesting enough.  I want to be an artist.”  

Youngest of the seven children, she married, first, Jack Lewis in 1913.  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 one of the best-known Black journalists in the country.  They married on January 6, 1928 and had one daughter, Philippa.  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 in 1969.

to be a Journalist or Reporter

To be a Writer


Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance.
HarperCollins Publishers
544 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780060882389; ISBN10: 0060882387
eBook ISBN: 9780062199126; ISBN10: 0062199129

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