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Cordelia Greene Johnson

Cordelia Greene Johnson (1887-1957) founded the Modern Beautician Association and served as its president until her death.

In this professional role, Madame Johnson (as she was affectionately called) became an outspoken advocate for the local beautician community. Johnson lobbied for better training, safer products, and increased sanitary conditions in beauty shops. These efforts resulted in politicians to consider the black community in the writing of related legislation. It also ensured that a black individual would become a member of the State Beauty Control Board to oversee the enacted law.

Throughout her career, Johnson also engaged in various lobbying efforts on behalf of the New Jersey Women’s Suffrage League. Her talents were admired by state Republican political leader Dr. George E. Cannon. He enlisted Johnson to embark on a speaking tour in support of presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge. Johnson served as President of the NAACP’s Jersey City branch and was a member of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Federation of Colored Women’s Club.



Smith, Jessie Carney, and Shirelle Phelps. 1992. Notable Black American women. Detroit: Gale Research. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/24468213 

Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Cordelia Thomas Greene Johnson”. Past and Promise, Lives of New Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54795034 

Questions to Explore

What did Johnson do to lobby for the beautician community?

Why did Johnson choose the beautician community to be her platform in supporting the black community and Woman’s Suffrage League?

How did Johnson’s actions affect and help the people in her community?

Additional Resources

James Edward T Janet Wilson James Paul S Boyer and Radcliffe College. 1971. Notable American Women 1607-1950 : A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. http://www.credoreference.com/book/hupnawi.

Burstyn, Joan N.. Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. United States: Syracuse University Press, 1997.