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Wise, Ozeline. Papers of Ozeline Wise, 1854-1988: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 89-M139
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Wise, Ozeline
Title: Papers of Ozeline Wise, 1854-1988
Date(s): 1854-1988
Quantity: 4.42 linear feet (4 cartons, 1 file box) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 2 objects)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Correspondence, financial documents, photographs, etc., of Ozeline Barret Wise and Satyra Pearson Bennett, active members of St. Paul A.M.E. Church (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 89-M139
The papers of Ozeline Barrett Wise were given to the Schlesinger Library by her estate, via Kenneth Reeves, Esq., executor, in July 1989.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: December 1990
By: Jessica Gill

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ozeline Wise is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Ozeline Wise Papers, 1854-1988; item description, dates. 89-M139, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Satyra (Pearson) Bennett and Ozeline Barrett (Pearson) Wise and their two brothers were the children of Frances Lavina (Gale) and William B. Pearson; their father was for many years pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the oldest black church in the city (established in 1873).
Satyra Pearson Bennett was born in 1892 in Rock Hill, Jamaica, and Ozeline Wise in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1903. After the family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Satyra Pearson Bennett graduated from Cambridge Latin School, and in 1913 from Wilberforce University in Ohio. She then taught at McKinley Institute in Lynchburg, Virginia, before her marriage in 1919 to Cyril George Bennett. Their son, George Barrett Bennett, was born a year later. Satyra Pearson Bennett returned to Massachusetts and for more than thirty years worked as a linotype operator for a number of newspapers in the Boston area.
A member of St. Paul AME Church for over seventy years, Satyra Pearson Bennett served as treasurer, trustee, superintendent of the Sunday School, and member of the Board of Christian Education. She was co-founder (1949) and president of the Citizens' Charitable Health Association, co-founder of the Cambridge Community Center, trustee of the Massachusetts chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, and vice-president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP. She died in June 1977.
Ozeline Wise also completed high school in Cambridge, and held clerical jobs until she married John Wise in 1931. They adopted a son, Hubert Smith, in 1961. Ozeline Wise worked for the Navy during World War II, and after the war was the first black woman employed by the banking department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she worked for nearly twenty years.
During the 1950s, the Wises lived in Billerica, Massachusetts, in a house named Galehurst, which they ran as an inn. Some time after John Wise's death in 1963, Ozeline Wise returned to Cambridge to live with her sister. She devoted herself to St. Paul AME Church, serving as Sunday School teacher, trustee, and chair of the building fund. Ozeline Wise also worked with her sister in many of the same community organizations, and was a charter member of the Citizens' Charitable Health Association.
After 1965 Ozeline Wise lived with Satyra Pearson Bennett, who had suffered a series of strokes, and cared for her sister until the latter's death in 1977. Ozeline Wise died in 1988.


This collection mainly documents the activities of Ozeline Wise and Satyra Pearson Bennett in St. Paul AME Church and other AME Church organizations; there are few family and personal papers. The collection is divided into five series: Family, Satyra Pearson Bennett, Ozeline Barrett Wise, AME Church, and Black history.
Series I, Family, includes correspondence and legal documents of William Barrett Pearson and Frances Lavina (Gale) Pearson, and a diary of William Barrett Pearson detailing his work as a minister, 1884-1887.
Series II, Satyra Pearson Bennett, consists of personal correspondence; Wilberforce University programs, notebooks, and diplomas; correspondence, and programs and tickets for fund raising activities relating to St. Paul AME Church, and the Citizens' Charitable Health Association; certificates and awards; and a photograph.
Series III, Ozeline Barrett Wise, consists of personal correspondence, tax records, wills, other legal and financial documents, and photographs.
Series IV, AME Church, consists of correspondence, annual reports, programs, account books, bills, and receipts from St. Paul; programs and souvenir booklets from other AME churches; correspondence, conference programs, reports, etc. from various AME lay organizations; and Christian publications.
Series V, Black history, consists of photographs, articles, programs, clippings, and directories concerning people, places, and events in black culture and history.
For a transcript of an interview with Ozeline Wise about her life and that of her sister, see the Black Women Oral History Project: From the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe College (Meckler, 1991).


Container List

Additional Index Terms

African American clergy--Diaries
African American Sunday schools
African American women--Massachusetts
Cambridge (Mass.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Christian women
Women in charitable work
Women in church work--Massachusetts--Protestant churches
Bennett, Satyra, 1892-1977
Brooke, Edward W. (Edward William), 1919-2015
Fauntroy, Walter E.
St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church (Cambridge, Mass.)
Wilberforce University--Students