Olivia Ward Bush-Banks

Born: 1869

Olivia Ward Bush-Banks was born in Sag Harbor, New York, on February 27, 1869, to parents of African American and Montauk descent. After her mother died when she was nine months old, Bush-Banks was sent to live with her aunt in Providence, Rhode Island. It was while she was enrolled at Providence High School that Bush-Banks began writing poems, many of which reflected on her heritage and biracial identity. After high school, Bush-Banks got married and had two daughters. A few years later, she divorced and briefly lived with her aunt in Providence again before moving her family to Boston, where she served as the assistant dramatic director at the Robert Gould Shaw Community House. In 1899, Bush-Banks published the ten-poem collection Original Poems (Louis A. Basinet Press), followed by Driftwood (Atlantic Printing Co., 1914). By 1900, Bush-Banks had contributed to a number of publications, including Boston TranscriptVoice of the Negro, and Colored American Magazine, and was serving as the historian for the Montauk nation, a position she held until she remarried in the early 1920s. Bush-Banks died in New York City on April 8, 1944. Source