Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

Daisy E. Lampkin (1883–1965) dedicated her life to advancing the rights of  women and African Americans in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.

Born Daisy Elizabeth Adams in Washington, D.C., she spent her childhood in Reading, Berks County, before moving to Pittsburgh in 1909 and marrying restauranteur William Lampkin in 1912. She began her public career at the height of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, initially giving neighborhood speeches encouraging other women to join the struggle for voting rights.

Lampkin was soon recognized for her exceptional leadership abilities. She encouraged the African American community to purchase war bonds during World War I and organized the first African American chapter of the Red Cross. In 1915 she was appointed president of the New Negro Women’s Equal Franchise Federation (which became the Lucy Stone Civic League), serving in that role until 1955. Her involvement in that organization exposed her to other African American national organizations including the National Association of Colored Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Lampkin worked tirelessly for the NAACP, first as regional secretary, then as national field secretary, traveling throughout the United States. She organized more branches, raised more money, and enrolled more members than anyone before her. It was because of Lampkin’s influence that the national convention of the NAACP came to Pittsburgh in 1931. She also encouraged an impressive young African American lawyer named Thurgood Marshall (1908–93) to become active in the NAACP. Marshall went on to represent that organization in a landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which banned segregation in schools, before he himself became the first African American justice of the highest court in the country.

Daisy E. Lampkin. Childs Family Collection on Daisy Lampkin, Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center

Daisy E. Lampkin.
Childs Family Collection on Daisy Lampkin, Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center

After women were given the right to vote in 1920, Lampkin became involved in political matters, initially serving as alternate delegate to the National Republican Convention. Although never running for public office herself, she was a strong political activist on the local, state and national levels. She supported Republican Herbert Hoover for president but switched to the Democratic Party after Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal.

Lampkin was a stockholder in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American weekly newspaper, and in 1929 became vice president. Not surprisingly, she did not remain behind the scenes as an executive but served as a writer and editor as well. She used the paper as an effective platform to advance social justice causes and promote fundraising efforts. During her tenure the Courier became the nation’s most widely circulated African American newspaper.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and its Black History Advisory Committee installed and dedicated a Pennsylvania Historical Marker for Daisy E. Lampkin in front of her last home at the intersection of Webster Avenue and Watt Lane in the Hill District of Pittsburgh on August 9, 1983. At the time, it was the first PHMC marker for an African American woman in the commonwealth. Today there are more than 30 markers related to African American women throughout Pennsylvania.


Karen Galle is on the staff of PHMC’s State Historic Preservation Office and has been the coordinator of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program since 2005.