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Lyda D. Newman
*The birth of Lyda D. Newman is celebrated on this date in c. 1865. She was a Black inventor and advocate for women's suffrage.
Newman was born in Ohio, but she spent most of her life living and working in Manhattan, New York City, in San Juan Hill. Records indicate that she may have mixed-race as she interchangeably recorded her race as mulatto and black. Newman's primary occupation was hair care, as she listed "hair specialist" or "hairdresser" in various New York City Directories and Government Federal and New York City censuses. In addition to her work in New York City, Newman appears to have worked with hair in Newport, Rhode Island, during the summers.
The Newport Daily News contains the following advertisement in its July 20, 1903, edition: "Lyda NEWMAN, OF NEW YORK. HAIR and SCALP SPECIALIST begs to announce that she has arrived for her ninth season in Newport and will be glad to receive calls from those desiring treatments. My original method of magnetic manipulation positively cures nervous exhaustion. Shampooing is a specialty. 56 BATH ROAD."
In the late 1800s, Newman invented a hairbrush that could be taken apart easily for cleaning from the back. The U.S. Patent 614,335 was granted on November 15, 1898. The hairbrush she invented is described in her patent as "simple and durable in construction" and being "very effective when in use." She was an active community member and organizer for women's suffrage in the early 20th century. She spent her time canvassing neighborhoods in New York City, hosted street meetings to educate passing people, and supported the Woman Suffrage Party; Newman started the Negro Suffrage Headquarters in Manhattan.
On August 29, 1915, the New York Times noted under "Suffrage Centre for Negroes", "The Woman Suffrage Party is to open a suffrage headquarters for colored people at 207 West Sixty-third Street on Wednesday. Miss Lyda Newman is doing excellent work for suffrage among her people. The headquarters will be gayly decorated with suffrage posters, flags, and streamers. Many colored women have been asked to play hostess at the new headquarters while Miss Newman goes canvassing among voters in the neighborhood (sic)."
On September 2, 1915, the New York Times followed up with a second news blurb under "Negro Suffrage Headquarters," "Headquarters for the work of the negro suffragists were opened at 207 West Sixty-third Street last evening with a big open-air meeting outside the building. Miss Lyda D. Newman oversees the work and will continue canvassing and organizing street meetings through the thirteenth Assembly District from now until election day. Dr. Mary Halton and Miss Portia Willis were among the speakers last evening. Sixty-third Street was opened yesterday as a play street with no traffic from 3 to 9 P.M., and mothers are invited to the headquarters and watch their children play from the windows (sic)."
In 1917, Lyda Newman was listed on the 51st election district for New York City voter list as a registered voter. There is no information regarding her exact dates of birth or death.
Image Courtesy: Sensei Aishitemasu