Mary E. Bibb

Mary Bibb was an abolitionist, teacher, journalist, editor, and publisher who lived in Sandwich, Canada West (now a part of Windsor, Ontario, Canada).

Mary Bibb was born Mary Elizabeth Miles in 1820 in Rhode Island to parents who were free. She was educated as a teacher at the Lexington Normal School in Massachusetts,Photo of Mary E. Bibb Park which she entered in 1842. After her graduation, Bibb lived and taught in different American cities, including Boston, Albany, and Cincinnati, and she became involved in the abolitionist movement. She met abolitionist Henry Bibb at an anti-slavery gathering; she and Bibb got married in 1848 in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1850, the Bibbs moved to Sandwich, where they continued their work as abolitionists. Henry and Mary Bibb supported and helped freedom seekers who crossed the border into Canada, providing them with food and shelter, and helping them get settled. Mary Bibb opened a school for Black children in Sandwich, as Black children were not allowed to attend public schools at the time. Mary and Henry Bibb also managed the Refugee Home Society, an organization that helped formerly enslaved persons living in Canada by providing them with farmland as well as supplies, tools, and other assistance.

In 1851, Mary and Henry Bibb started Voice of the Fugitive, the first abolitionist newspaper in Canada run by African-Canadians. The Voice was run by the Bibbs and distributed in both Canada and the United States. In 1853, there was a fire at the newspaper’s office, halting production; the Voice stopped printing permanently in 1854, when Henry Bibb passed away. Mary Bibb is often called Canada’s first Black female journalist for her role in editing and writing for the Voice.

In 1852, Mary and Henry moved from Sandwich to Windsor, where Mary started another school. The Bibbs established the Windsor Anti-Slavery Society. Mary Bibb also ran a retail store in Windsor, starting in 1865.

After Henry Bibb passed away, Mary Bibb married Isaac N. Cary, brother-in-law of abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd, and they had one child together.

After her time living in Windsor, Mary Bibb moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she resided until she passed away in 1877.

The Canadian government designated Mary and Henry Bibb as Persons of National Historic Significance in 2002. Their federal heritage plaque is located on Sandwich Street in Windsor.

In 2021, the City of Windsor renamed a park in Sandwich Town after Mary Bibb. Mary E. Bibb Park is located at 3261 Sandwich Street.


CBC Windsor. (Feb. 2, 2021). “City of Windsor Names Park After Slavery Abolitionist, Pioneering Black Publisher.”

Davis, Irene Moore. (2020). “Black Lives in Sandwich: Henry and Mary Bibb.” The North Was Our Canaan: Exploring Sandwich Town’s Underground Railroad History.

Forster, Merna. (2011). 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. Dundurn.

Foundations: The African Canadian Connection. “The Refugee Home Society.” The Windsor Mosaic Project.

Government of Canada (Oct. 8, 2005). “The Government of Canada Commemorates the National Historic Significance of Mary and Henry Bibb.”

“The Voice of the Fugitive.” INK – OurDigitalWorld (ODW) Newspaper Collection.

Tobin, Jacqueline L. (2007). From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad. Doubleday.

Wright, Daryn. “Mary Bibb.” Canada’s Early Women Writers, Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory.