Mary (Shadd) Cary
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Mary Ann (Shadd) Cary (1823 - 1893)

Mary Ann Cary formerly Shadd
Born in Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 1856 in Toronto, York, Canada Westmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 69 in Washington, District of Columbia, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 5 Oct 2014
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Mary (Shadd) Cary was a part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Mary Ann Shadd was the first African American woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada.[1]

Mary Ann Shadd was born free in Wilmington, Delaware on October 9, 1823, to Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Burton Parnell.

Abraham, her father, was a grandson of Hans Schad, also known as John Shadd, a native of Hesse-Cassel, who had entered the United States by serving as a Hessian soldier with the British Army during the French and Indian War.[1] Abraham was a black agent in the Wilmington underground, and Mary grew up in a home that often hosted fugitive slaves. When it became illegal to educate African American children in the state of Delaware, the Shadd family moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania, where Mary attended a Quaker boarding school, which had a profound influence on her.[2] In 1840, after being away at school, Mary Ann returned to Chester and established a school for black children. She also later taught in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and New York City. The Quaker-educated teacher then moved to Canada where as a writer and editor she advocated permanent emigration from the States. Just before the Civil War she returned to the States to continue working for freedom where she was needed most.[1]

Mary Ann was the first born of thirteen children. In 1850 her parents' household was counted on the census in West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania, without her. This record shows that they had lived in Delaware until after 1832 and had moved to Pennsylvania before 1836.[3] The move was only 17 miles away. Three years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 threatened the freedom of all black Americans, A. D. Shadd moved his family to Canada West, settling in North Buxton, Ontario.

Mary Ann and her brother Isaac had already moved to Canada, immediately after passage of the act, settling in Windsor, Ontario, across the border from Detroit, where Mary Ann's efforts to create free black settlements in Canada first began. There, in 1853, Mary Ann Shadd founded a weekly anti-slavery paper, called The Provincial Freeman. She traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada at great personal risk to promote this vehicle for black self-empowerment.[1]


She married Thomas F. Carey, a Toronto barber who was also involved with The Provincial Freeman, in Toronto, York County, Ontario, Canada in 1856.[1]

Children of the marriage:
  1. Sarah Elizabeth Cary (c.1859)[4]
  2. Linton Shadd Cary (c.1860)

Thomas F. Cary died just four years after they were married, while she was pregnant with their second child, Linton. [1]

After her husband died in 1860 in Canada, she and her children returned to the United States. During the Civil War, at the behest of the abolitionist Martin Delany, she served as a recruiting officer to enlist black volunteers for the Union Army in the state of Indiana.[1]

After the Civil War, she taught in black schools in Wilmington, before moving to Washington, D.C.[5] where she taught in public schools and attended Howard University School of Law.[1] She attained her law degree at the age of 60 in 1883, becoming only the second black woman in the United States to do so. She wrote for the newspapers The National Era and The People's Advocate and in 1880, organized the Colored Women's Progressive Franchise.[1]

Mary Ann Shadd Cary died on 5 June 1893 and was laid to rest in the Columbian Harmony Cemetery.[6][7] Her grave was later moved to National Harmony Memorial Park Cemetery, Hyattsville, Prince George's County, Maryland.[1]


  • Mary Ann Shadd Cary's former residence in the U Street Corridor was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
  • In 1987 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project.
  • Canada designated her a Person of National Historic Significance.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Wikipedia contributors, "Mary Ann Shadd," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 8, 2020).
  2. Tricia Williams Jackson, "Mary Ann Shadd Cary" in Women in Black History: Stories of Courage, Faith, and Resilience (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016) p. 47.
  3. "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 August 2015), Abram D Shadd, West Chester, Chester, Pennsylvania, United States; citing family 371, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). House Number 349
    1850 West Chester, Chester, Pennsylvania
    Age 49, Race Mulatto, Birth Year (Estimated) 1801, Birthplace Delaware
    HEAD: Abram D Shadd M 49 Delaware "Shoemaker"
    WIFE: Harriet Shadd F 44 North Carolina
    Isaac Shadd M 20 Delaware
    Amelia Shadd F 18 Delaware
    Joseph Shadd M 16 Pennsylvania
    Emeline Shadd F 15 Pennsylvania
    Garrison Shadd M 13 Pennsylvania
    Sarah Shadd F 10 Pennsylvania
    Ada Shadd F 9 Pennsylvania
    Abraham Shadd M 6 Pennsylvania
    Eunice Shadd M 4 Pennsylvania
    Jerrah Shadd M 1 Pennsylvania
    Mary Burton F 70 North Carolina
  4. "Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2018), Mary in entry for James William Thorpe and Lizzie Carry, 05 Feb 1879; citing registration , Toronto, York, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,869,506.
    Spouse's parents: Thomas and Mary Carry
  5. "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 August 2017), Linton S Cary in household of Mary A S Cary, Washington, Washington, District of Columbia, United States; citing enumeration district ED 18, sheet 149D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,121. Digital Folder Number: 005157356 --Image Number: 00789 --Record Number: 23532505
    Mary A S Cary, Widowed, age 52 born in Delaware, occupation, School Teacher
    Sarah E Cary Daughter F 22 Canada
    Linton S Cary Son M 21 Canada
    Aurelia E Layton Boarder F 13 Michigan, United States
  6. "District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1961," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 October 2020), Mary A.S. Cary, 05 Jun 1893, District of Columbia, United States; citing reference ID cn 90483, District Records Center, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 2,135,977. Digital Folder Number: 004024791 --Image Number: 2306 --Indexing Project (Batch) Number: B01176-0
    Name: Mary A.S. Cary
    Event Date: 05 Jun 1893
    Event Place: District of Columbia, United States
    Age: 68
    Marital Status: Widowed
    Occupation: lawyer
    Birth Year (Estimated): 1825
    Birthplace: Wilmington, Del.
    Burial Date: 07 Jun 1893
    Cemetery: Harmony
    Father's Birthplace: American
    Mother's Birthplace: American
    Record Number: 82
  7. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 08 November 2020), memorial page for Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary (9 Oct 1823–5 Jun 1893), Find A Grave: Memorial #40231747, citing Columbian Harmony Cemetery (Defunct), Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA; Maintained by Lou & Jackie (contributor 46905847). [Includes photo and biography. No source for the middle name "Camberton."]
  • National Geographic Vol. 166 No. 1 July 1984

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Memories: 2
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what is a google doodle and WHY is it on her profile?
posted 26 Oct 2020 by Carole Taylor   [thank Carole]
not sure why she is not on "The Tree" I have her paternal side 3rd generation back, as far as I can go.
posted 9 Oct 2020 by Carole Taylor   [thank Carole]
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Mary:

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Comments: 6

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In response to your question posted in "Memories," above, from clicking on the link on her Wikipedia page, "A Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google's homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures." Not sure why whoever added that tidbit to her Wikipedia page thought it was part of her legacy, but there it is.

posted by Stephanie Ward
edited by Stephanie Ward
looks like maybe she needs a Notable sticker. Is she really not connected to the tree? Are her siblings really all half-sibs?
posted by Shirlea Smith
the "Notable sticker" is there. And I will check the other 2  ?? asap. thank you
posted by Carole Taylor
It appears that the person who added all the children only added the father and did not LINK the mother Parnell-1429 so guess I will do it.
posted by Carole Taylor
ok, all 12 kids are linked to Mom.
posted by Carole Taylor
according to the G2G question I asked what I had to do to get the Shadd family on the TREE.. "nothing, and they may never connect" just keeping adding profiles and hope 1 connects............
posted by Carole Taylor