Thelma James

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May 30, 1899 – January 23, 1988

Thelma Gray James graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 1920.  She joined the faculty of the College of the City of Detroit, forerunner of Wayne State University, in 1923, retiring from Wayne in 1967 as a pioneering folklorist.  James shared various Detroit homes with her close partner of 40 years Marguerite Hicks.

Detroit Free Press, January 24, 1988

Ruth Ellis

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July 23, 1899 – October 12, 2000

Elder and matriarch Ruth Ellis hosted house parties with her partner Babe Franklin in their Oakland Street home during the 1940s and ’50s, giving sanctuary to LGBTQ African American Detroiters who were often excluded from the city’s gay bars.

Between The Lines, October 12, 2000

Ruth Ellis papers at the Bentley Historical Library

Trailer for Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100