A Science for Everyone, Demography

Wells-Barnett Becoming Barbie

I note that Mattel is making a Barbie doll that honors Ida Wells-Barnett.

They note that she was a journalist, suffragette, and had a role in founding the NAACP – to me, her unusual strength was the use of statistics in her research on lynchings.  She deserves mention in her early role in social research and reliance on statistics.  Still, the article doesn’t include the quote that I find easy to remember:

I’m a Montanan.  My state’s legal tradition begins with vigilantes hanging a crooked sheriff and his minions.  In 1884, Granville Stuart organized another vigilance committee – now known as Stuart’s Stranglers – to end rustling.  In a short time, Stuart’s Stranglers killed at least 20 rustlers, and numbers up to 100 are written in some accounts.  By the end of the Summer, Granville Stuart was president of the Stockman’s Association.  Stuart’s activities, despite the poor record keeping, made 1884 the highest year for lynching white men in the US. (My readings suggest that the first recorded use of the numbers 3-7-77 was by Stuart’s Stranglers and not by the Vigilantes of Montana 20 years earlier)

Douglas Linder has published the data series Ida Wells started (maintained at Tuskegee) on lynchings by state and race. Clicking the link will give you an idea of how solid the lady’s research was – and how racist it was in some areas.

I’ll be looking for the Barbie – but I want mine to be holding a lever action Winchester.  She may not have been granted a graduate degree – but her work was important in developing American Sociology.

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