Author: Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, PhD, co-founder The Uncrowned Queens Institute
Amelia Grace Anderson was a member of a prominent African American family that settled in Buffalo as early as 1832. Her grandmother was Katherine Gehring Taylor, a German American. Her grandfather, Benjamin C. Taylor was the first African American doctor in Buffalo. He is said to have traveled to California during the 1849 gold rush with his good friend, Robert Talbert. The two struck it big, returned to Buffalo wealthy men and invested in real estate. Amelia was born circa 1881 at the family home at 106 Walnut Street on Buffalo’s eastside. Her parents were Elnora Taylor and Gustavus Anderson, Jr.
Amelia was one of the first blacks to graduate from Syracuse University where she earned a Doctorate in Liberal Arts. She can be found in two publications listing University students in 1903 and 1904, when presumably she graduated with an undergraduate degree. She is listed among alumni in another University publication, dated 1907, that cites her PhD. Ms. Anderson taught school in Buffalo and was an active member of a number of community organizations.
She was a member of the Buffalo Phyllis Wheatley Club founded in 1899. She was also an active member of the Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs and became President of that organization in 1938. She was a co-founder, along with Florence Lee of the Lit-Mus Study Club in 1922. This group is credited with establishing Negro History Week in Buffalo in 1928. Like the other groups, the Lit-Mus Club was affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, which had as its motto, “Lifting as we climb”.
During the period of her women’s club involvement, Amelia was also engaged in advocating for the civil rights of African Americans. She was a founding member and leader of the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP. Organized in 1915, the Branch elected Amelia as its secretary in 1917. In 1928, she was elected President of the Buffalo NAACP.
Ms. Anderson died on May 31, 1950, and is interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
The Friends of the Buffalo Story is involved in a yearlong project whose mission is to uncover and reveal the heritage-based stories of people who live along the Ferry Street Corridor. As part of this effort “The Friends” is working very closely with community-groups, who have been doing this work for many years. None has done this more effectively and diligently than the uncrowned queens institute for research & education on women, inc.
We are proud to be collaborating with them to bring you this ongoing feature during the month of February, which focuses on some of the “uncrowned community builders” who have done so much to strengthen the African-American community of Buffalo’s East Side as well as the region.
Additional “uncrowned community builders” are as follows: