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HALL, JOSIE BRIGGS

HALL, JOSIE BRIGGS (1869–1935). Josie Briggs Hall, black schoolteacher and writer, was born on September 17, 1869, in Waxahachie, Texas. Because her parents, Henry and Tennie Briggs, died before she reached her twelfth birthday, she lived with a sister during part of her childhood. She attended Bishop College but apparently did not graduate. However, at the age of sixteen, she secured her first teaching job at a school in Canaan, Texas, and subsequently taught at a number of other schools in such locations as Ray and Mexia, Texas, and Penton and Tunica, Mississippi. She married J. P. Hall, a schoolteacher and principal, in 1888; they had three sons and two daughters.

Josie Hall was influenced by Booker T. Washington, who stressed the importance of education and economic advancement for black people. She wrote essays and poems that she hoped would promote fortitude and perseverance. After the nearly completed manuscript of her first book disappeared during a fire in 1898, she wrote two other books. A Scroll of Facts and Advice (1905) was a book of poems published by Houx's Printery of Mexia. The poems taught religious faith, patience, and sobriety. Hall's Moral and Mental Capsule for the Economic and Domestic Life of the Negro, As a Solution of the Race Problem (1905), published by R. S. Jenkins, not only contained original poems and essays but also included essays by Washington and Leo Tolstoy and biographical sketches and photographs of leading blacks in Texas and the United States. Such poems as "Parents Must Leave a Legacy," "Intemperance," "Right is Might," and "All Worldly Things are Perishable" and essays entitled "Thoughts for Different Nations" and "A Woman of Probity" presented the author's moral views. The poem "Politics" expressed her opinion that blacks needed "a home, an education and clothes" more than public office; "Women's Rights," another poem, advised women to remain in their separate domestic spheres and refrain from agitating for suffrage. Hall stressed that a wife could exert an influence over her husband "by doing her duty at home" and that "her principal duty is that of housewifery." She herself taught school, however, and there is some evidence that she may have been divorced later.

Josie Hall was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She attempted to found a junior college for blacks near Doyle in Limestone County, but the project apparently failed. During her later years she moved to Dallas, where she founded the Homemakers' Industrial and Trade School. According to city directories, she ran the school from February 1916 through the summer of 1928. She died in Dallas on October 25, 1935.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Express, February 15, 1919, March 20, 1920. Dallas Morning News, March 15, 1919. Doris Hollis Pemberton, Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983).

Paul M. Lucko

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Paul M. Lucko, "HALL, JOSIE BRIGGS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhafw), accessed April 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.