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Effie Lee Newsome (1885–1979), born Mary Effie Lee in Philadelphia, was a Harlem Renaissance writer.[1][2] She mostly wrote children's poems, and was the first famous African-American poet whose work was mostly in this area.[2] She edited a column in The Crisis from 1925 until 1929, called "The Little Page", where she made drawings and wrote poetry for children and parables about being young and black in the 1920s.[1][2] Newsome also illustrated for children's magazines and edited children's columns for Opportunity.[3]

She also wrote poems for adults, which were included in The Poetry of the Negro (1949).[2] Her only volume of poetry was Gladiola Garden (1940).[3]

In addition to her writing, she worked as a librarian at an elementary school in Wilberforce, Ohio.[3] She attended Wilberforce University, Oberlin College, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the University of Pennsylvania.[3]


Early life and educationEdit

Mary Effie Lee, better known as Effie Lee Newsome, was born on January 19, 1885, in Philadelphia, to parents Benjamin Franklin and Mary Elizabeth Ashe Lee. Newsome's father Benjamin was a Bishop and led the family from Texas to Ohio during Newsome's childhood. Effie would later receive her higher education from Wilberforce University (1901-1904), Oberlin College (1904-1905), the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (1907-1908), and the University of Pennsylvania (1911-1914).[4]


Starting in 1917, Effie Lee Newsome began working with W.E.B. Du Bois on The Crisis Magazine. Newsome would continue to contribute to a section of The Crisis known as The Little Page, until 1934. In 1920, Mary Effie Lee married Reverend Henry Nesby Newsome and thereafter was known as Effie Lee Newsome. After marriage, both Effie and Reverend Henry moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and later relocated to Wilberforce, Ohio. While in Ohio, Effie Lee Newsome worked as a librarian in an elementary school and continued to build her career as a writer during the Harlem Renaissance.[4]


Though Effie Lee Newsome was primarily known as a nature poet and a contributor to children's literature, her impression upon the people of the Harlem Renaissance was clear. Upon starting to write for The Crisis in 1917, and then in 1925, writing for her own section of the magazine known as The Little Page, Newsome was given a specific task. It was Newsome's job to teach the black youth of America that to be colored was to be beautiful. Such ideas were present in poems such as Newsome's To a Black Boy. Newsome was also expected to teach the black youth about their history as a people and how to turn the anger toward white America into love and compassion. Newsome's contribution to children's literature was aligned to some degree with that of W.E.B Du Bois, her editor in the early days of the NAACP. Their work together is an important part of Newsome's story, for it was Newsome's job to carry on within the pages of The Crisis Magazine (the NAACP monthly) what Du Bois had tried to achieve in his periodical for children, The Brownies' Book (also under NAACP auspices).[5]


  1. ^ a b "Effie Lee Newsome". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  2. ^ a b c d "Effie Lee Newsome in GRAPHIC CLASSICS". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  3. ^ a b c d Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  4. ^ a b Patton, Venetria (2001). Double-take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology. Rutgers University Press. p. 243.
  5. ^ MacCann, Donnarae (Summer 1988). "Effie Lee Newsome: African American Poet of the 1920s". Children's Literature Association Quarterly. 13 (2): 60. doi:10.1353/chq.0.0087.