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

Marshall, Harriet (Hattie) A. Gibbs

(born: 1868  -  died: 1941) 

The daughter of Mifflin Gibbs - the first African American judge - and Maria A. Alexander Gibbs, Hattie entered Oberlin Conservatory of Music at the age of 11. She graduated with honors in 1889, receiving a diploma in music, the first African American to do so. Hattie had been born in Victoria, British Columbia; the maternal side of her family lived in Kentucky. In 1891, she came to Kentucky to establish a music school at Eckstein Norton in Cane Spring; when the school closed she left Kentucky and was named director of music for the African American schools in Washington, D.C. While maintaining her position with the public schools, Gibbs opened the Washington Conservatory of Music (1903-1960), a successful institution that continued after her death. Hattie Gibbs' married name was Marshall. She was the granddaughter of Lucy Alexander and Henry Alexander. For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings at the the Documenting the American South website; The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; Harriet Gibbs Marshall, a Howard University website; "Career women of the capital," Baltimore Afro-American, 07/22/1939, p.17; and A History of Three African-American Women Who Made Important Contributions to Music Education Between 1903-1960 (thesis) by D. R. Patterson.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Marshall, Harriet (Hattie) A. Gibbs,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-09-06 11:53:01