From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Johnson, Lillian E. Russell Bakeman

(born: 1872) 

Lillian E. Russell, born in Kentucky, was the daughter of Wilbur L. Gordon Russell (mother) and William H. Russell [sources: Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925; and Michigan Death Records Index]. (The family moved to Detroit, MI, sometime after Lillian's birth.)

After attending high school and business college in Detroit, she became a bookkeeper and stenographer. She married George C. Bakeman around 1895 and was divorced by 1910. Lillian and her daughter lived with her mother, Wilbur L. Russell, for a while according to the U.S. Federal Census.

By 1920 she was going by Lillian E. Johnson and once again living with her mother.. Lillian had remarried and was a widow. She was employed as a stenographer at a law office.

Considered a member of the middle class within the African American community in Detroit, Lillian Bakeman was selected as a board member of the Detroit Urban League. She was employed as a bookkeeper for a physician.

She was one of the early African American members of the Detroit Urban League's integrated board when the organization worked hand-in-hand with its financier, the Employer's Association, to supply Detroit industries with African American laborers from the South. The Detroit Urban League was established in 1910.

Lillian Bakeman Johnson was living with her brother Samuel H. Russell in 1940. The family of four lived on Alger Street in Detroit [U.S. Federal Census]. She was then employed as a bookkeeper with a newspaper.

Bakeman's brief biography is included in the Michigan Manual of Freemen's Progress, compiled by F. H. Warren [available fulltext on the Western Michigan University website]. For more about the Detroit Urban League Board when Bakeman was a member, see Internal Combustion: the races in Detroit, 1915-1926, by D. A. Levine.

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NKAA Source: Michigan manual of freedmen's progress
NKAA Source: Internal combustion : the races in Detroit, 1915-1926

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“Johnson, Lillian E. Russell Bakeman,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-02-26 22:46:17