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Fri, 03.13.1914

Myrtle Elizabeth Picou Sengstacke, Socialite and Activist born.

Myrtle Elizabeth Picou Sengstacke

*Myrtle Elizabeth Picou Sengstacke was born on this date in 1914.  She was a Black artisan, philanthropist, and activist.

Myrtle Lorenza Picou was born to a New Orleans Creole family, including her father, Thomas W. Picou, Mother Mary E. Raggett (or Marie Raguette), Uncle Lewis W. Raggett, and brother Maurice (Morris) Picou. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was a child, and Myrtle graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1933 and then attended college at the Southwestern School, also in Los Angeles.

In 1939, Picou moved to Chicago, where Picou met John Sengstacke. Her immersion in black society predated her marriage, as she was "well known in Chicago and eastern cities" as a fixture at social events and parties in Los Angeles and New Orleans. They married in July 1939 in Valparaiso, Indiana, and had three children together: John Herman Henry Sengstacke III, Lewis Willis Sengstacke, and Robert Abbott Sengstacke.

Myrtle Sengstacke was active throughout her life in several philanthropic, social, and charitable organizations, including the Chicago Defender Charities and its Black Creativity program, the Girl Scouts, the Parkway Community House, WTTW public television, the YMCA, and the Metropolitan Crusade of Mercy. She was also a member of social clubs for black women, including the Chicago Chapter of the Girl Friends and the Gay Northeasterners.

She divorced John Sengstacke in 1974. Myrtle Elizabeth Picou Sengstacke died in Chicago on August 20, 1990, at 76.

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