Mrs. N.F. Mossell

Kuebler, William J. Gertrude Bustill Mossell.

Biographical Information

Gertrude Emily Hicks Bustill Mossell, also known as Mrs. N.F. Mossell, was born in the United States into an African-American family in 1855 and died in 1948 at 92 years old in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was taught and encouraged to be educated at a young age by her father. Gertrude was the daughter of Black Quakers, that later became Presbyterians. She began her career as a journalist, and was also a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines. Mrs. Mossell’s publications were focused on Black women, and she frequently advocated for racial equality. Mrs. Mossell also encouraged other Black women to get into journalism. She met Nathan Francis Mossell who was born in 1856 and died in 1946. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the founder of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. She later married Dr. Mossell in 1893, a year before The Work of the Afro-American Woman was published. They had two daughters together. Mrs. Mossell published using the initials of her husband Nathan Francis Mossell, (N.F.). 

Mrs. Mossell used her husband’s initials as a “public strategy of modesty” in other words, “her intention [was] to defend and celebrate black womanhood without disrupting the delicate balance of black male-female relations or challenging masculine authority” (The Work of the Afro-American Woman xxviii).

The Work of the Afro-American Woman

Mrs. N.F. Mossell, “brings together intellectual goals and black feminist politics in the spirit of racial uplift” (xxix).

Oxford University Press, 1988.

Publication Information

In 1894, Mrs. N.F. Mossell published The Work of the Afro-American Woman. The second edition of the book was published in 1988 as part of The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers and includes an introduction by Joanne Braxton. It is divided up into two sections, the first being a series of essays and the second being a collection of poems all centering around the theme of racial uplift in the United States. The works discussed in the book are the achievements of different Black women who are “educators, writers, journalists, dramatics, composers, missionaries, and businesswomen” (xxxi).

You can read the first edition of the book here:

Other Publications

  • Little Dansie’s One Day at Sabbath School (1902)

Additional Publication Information

Mrs. Mossell was a journalist when she began her writing career. She had her work published in newspapers and magazines. These publications have not yet been recovered. Her publications were focused on Black women and she frequently advocated for racial equality.

Works Cited

“Gertrude Bustill Mossell.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 July 2019.

Mossell, Mrs. N.F. The Work of the Afro-American Woman, introduction by Joanne Braxton. Oxford University Press, 1988.

Mossell, Mrs. N.F. The Work of the Afro-American Woman. Philadelphia : G.S. Ferguson, 1 Jan. 1894. Internet Archive.

“Nathan Francis Mossell.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 July 2018.