Ida Gibbs

Ida Alexander Gibbs (November[1] 16, 1862 - December 19, 1957)[2] was an advocate of racial and gender equality,[3] and co-founded one of the first YWCAs in Washington, D.C. for African-Americans in 1905.[2] She was the daughter of Judge Mifflin Wistar Gibbs,[4] the wife of William Henry Hunt, and a longtime friend of W.E.B. DuBois.[5]

Ida Alexander Gibbs Hunt
Photo of Ida Gibbs.jpg
Ida Alexander Gibbs

(1862-11-16)November 16, 1862
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
DiedDecember 19, 1957(1957-12-19) (aged 95)
Washington, D.C.
Alma materOberlin College
OccupationEducator, Civil Rights Activist
William Henry Hunt (m. 1904)

Early life and educationEdit

Ida Alexander Gibbs was born on November 16, 1862 in Victoria, British Columbia.[2] Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was her father. Harriet Gibbs Marshall was her sister. Their left California during the Gold Rush because of the race badges they were forced to wear and moved en masse to Victoria.[6]

In the 1860s, Gibbs moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where her mother, Maria Ann (Alexander), had studied at Oberlin College.[7]

Gibbs studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (1872-1876) and Oberlin Public Schools (1876-c. 1879). Afterwards, she completed Oberlin College's Preparatory Department and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English as a boarding student.[7]

At Oberlin College, she completed a classical and scientific academic course in the Department of Philosophy and the Arts as part of the first class of black women to graduate from the school in 1884 alongside Mary Church Terrell and Anna Julia Cooper.[1] In 1892, she received an MA degree.[7]



She taught Latin and mathematics before her marriage in 1904.[8][2]

She taught at Florida A&M Tallahassee and M Street High School, a prestigious African American college preparatory school in Washington DC.[4][2]

Promoting black education, civil rights and woman's suffrage, Gibbs made her mark as an educator and Pan-Africanist.

Civil rights activismEdit

Gibbs pursued her civil activism in a variety of ways. Internationally, she helped support W.E.B. DuBois in organizing many Pan-African Congresses[9] and supported the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.[10] She also advocated for world disarmament at the 1923 London Third Pan-African Congress in a paper entitled “The Colored Races and the League of Nations" and along with W.E.B. DuBois, she co-chaired the Conference's Executive Committee.[2][11] Nationally she was involved in the Niagara Movement and well as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). After her marriage, Gibbs accompanied her husband on his diplomatic assignments, including Liberia, France, Madagascar, and Guadeloupe.[2] Through her travels with her husband, Gibbs developed an international perspective on racial justice.[10]

After World War I, Gibbs began to write for The Crisis under the pen name Iola Gibson.[1]

She organized the first Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) for black women.[9]


Ida Gibbs Hunt died in Washington, D.C. on December 19, 1957.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Ardizzone, Heidi (2013). Alexander, Adele Logan; Botham, Fay; Pascoe, Peggy (eds.). "Marriage, Melanin, and American Racialism". Reviews in American History. 41 (2): 282–291. doi:10.1353/rah.2013.0048. ISSN 0048-7511. JSTOR 43661544.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Hunt, Ida Alexander Gibbs (1862-1957) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Book review: 'Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunt and the Enduring (In)significance of Melanin' by Adele Logan Alexander". The Washington Post. 16 May 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b Ida gibbs hunt. (1957, Dec 22). The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959)Retrieved from
  5. ^ Martin, Michel (10 Feb 2010). "Husband And Wife Duo Paved The Way For Blacks In Diplomacy". NPR. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  6. ^ Lex Musta (January 20, 2018). "The Multiracial DC women who created the first integrated Baháʼí community in America". In Richard Walter Thomas (ed.). The Other Tradition. Season 1. Episode 3. Washington, DC: Time Travel Tours DC.
  7. ^ a b c "Hunt, Ida". November 16, 1862 - December 19, 1957. 1993-01-01.
  8. ^ Kilian, Crawford (28 February 2011). "Born Black in Victoria in 1862 - The Tyee". The Tyee. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b Lemay, Kate Clarke, 1978- (2019-03-26). Votes for women! : a portrait of persistence. Goodier, Susan,, Jones, Martha S.,, Tetrault, Lisa,, National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution). Princeton, New Jersey. ISBN 9780691191171. OCLC 1051137979.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b Baumann, Roland M. (2010). Constructing Black Education at Oberlin College. Ohio University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8214-1887-1.
  11. ^ Ramdani, Fatma (2015-03-26). "Afro-American Women Activists as True Negotiators in the International Arena (1893-1945)". European Journal of American Studies (in French). 10 (10–1). doi:10.4000/ejas.10646. ISSN 1991-9336.