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Celebrating History's Literary Pathfinders: Mary Ann Shadd Cary

The first Black woman publisher in North America, Mary Ann Shadd was born in Wilmington, Delaware and educated at a Quaker school in Pennsylvania. After the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, she and a brother moved to Canada.

She worked to educate fugitives from slavery and began the Provincial Freeman newspaper to promote information about the successes of Black people living in Canada and to speak out against slavery, becoming the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper.

She married Toronto barber Thomas F. Cary, who was involved with the paper, in 1856

She obtained Canadian citizenship before returning to the US and worked as a recruiting agent to support the Union during the American Civil War.

After moving to Washington D.C., she became the first Black woman to obtain a law degree from Howard University as well as the first Black woman to cast a vote in a national election.

She was a pathfinder that paved the way for those of us who are publishers today, and it is our goal at Path To Publishing to generate more #Pathfinders like her with the courage to step boldly forward and blaze trails for those behind them.

To find out more about Path To Publishing, visit

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