Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Ida Wells, Ida Wells-Barnett, Ida Bell Wells, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett

Genre: C:ADULT History Non-Fiction

Born: 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi


Illinois Connection

Wells moved to Chicago in 1892 and lived there the rest of her life.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ida B. Wells was a journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. Her career began as a school teacher, and she was offered a position on the editorial staff of the Evening Star. Wells spent the last thirty years of her life in Chicago raising her family and working on urban reform to improve conditions for its rapidly growing African-American population. She established several civil rights organizations. She established several civil rights organizations. In 1896, she formed the National Association of Colored Women and is considered a founding member of the NAACP which formed after brutal assaults on the African-American community in Springfield, Illinois, in 1908. After her retirement, Wells started writing her autobiography, ''Crusade for Justice''. She never finished it; the book ends in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a word. Wells died of kidney failure in Chicago on March 25, 1931, at the age of sixty-eight.

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-- Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2011