FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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James Fields Needham
A Great Thing for our People


James Fields Needham (1848-1936)

James Fields Needham was one of three men to graduate from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1862. He went on to become an active member of the Philadelphia African American community.

James Fields Needham was born on January 31, 1848 to James Needham, a barber, and his wife Martha. After graduating from the Institute, he accepted a teaching position in 1867 as an Assistant in the Boys' High and Preparatory Schools and later as a Teacher in the Boys’ Preparatory School. He held this position until 1870. Needham left the Institute to accept a clerk position in the city’s tax office. According to Roger Lane, Needham was one of the first blacks to get a white-collar job in the Philadelphia city government.

Needham was active in the city’s African American community. He was a secretary for the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and an active member of the Order of Colored Odd Fellows of America. Politically he was involved in the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, the Citizens’ Republican Club, and served as President of the Bingham, Grant, Wilson and Hartranft Club, a black Republican club. He also served as a vestryman for St. Thomas’ Church.

Needham lived in Philadelphia his entire life. By 1880, he was married to a woman named Medora, a marriage that lasted more than fifty years. The couple had two daughters, Mary (born c. 1890) and Martha (born c. 1888). Needham worked well into his eighties, later in life as a secretary in a novelty shop. Needham died on July 11, 1936 and was buried on July 14 at Eden Cemetery.


Sources:

Roger Lane, William Dorsey’s Philadelphia and Ours: On the Past and Future of the Black City in America, New York, 1991, 118-119, 202; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1862, Philadelphia, 1862; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1867, Philadelphia, 1867; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1868, Philadelphia, 1868; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1869, Philadelphia, 1869; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1870, Philadelphia, 1870; Objects of the Institute for Colored Youth, with a list of the officers and students, and the annual report of the Board of Managers, for the year 1871, Philadelphia, 1871; 1850 Federal Census, Philadelphia Pine Ward, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll M432_813, Page 326A, Image 124, Ancestry.com; 1870 Federal Census, Philadelphia Ward 4 District 14, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll M593_1390, Page 261B, Image 528, Family History Library Film 552889, Ancestry.com; 1880 Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll 1169, Family History Film 1255169, Page 360A, Enumeration District 102, Image 0729, Ancestry.com; 1910 Federal Census, Philadelphia Ward 7, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll T624_1389, Page 2B, Enumeration District 0115, FHL microfilm 1375402, Ancestry.com; 1930 Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Roll 2112, Page 15A, Enumeration District 0682, Image 1004.0, FHL microfilm 2341846, Ancestry.com; “James Fields Needham,” Death Certificate, July 11, 1936, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944, Ancestry.com; “An Acknowledgement,” The Christian Recorder, June 23, 1866; “Civil Rights,” The Christian Recorder, October 16, 1873; “Meeting of Colored Republicans,” Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 13, 1872; “Meeting at Liberty Hall,” Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 27, 1872; “Easter Monday,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 27, 1883; The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 23, 1891; “The Latest News in Real Estate,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 1904.

James F. Needham.JPG{'<br/>'}

Image: “Meeting of Colored Republicans” 

Source: Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 13, 1872

Born: January 31, 1848 - Philadelphia, PA

Died: July 11, 1936 - Philadelphia, PA

Graduated: 1862

Career:
Educator
Government employee 



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