Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Ida Fairbush, 1869 - 1945

This biography was originally released on August 17, 2022 as a part of our on going series titled: Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Written by Madison Matthews on the Staff of The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

Ida Fairbush was born on March 15, 1869. She was a daughter, sister, student, educator, and community leader. Fairbush was never married or had kids but she took care of her mother and sisters. During this time, Fairbush was known as an “Uncrowned Queen” for her role of helping her community and the people around her.

During Fairbush’s time as a student, in 8th grade she was the only African American student in her grade. In 1884 when she was in 9th grade, she attend school #26 and was known as an excellent student. During that same year, she was the first African American student in her grade awarded the Silver Jesse Ketchum Medal . Fairbush then applied to Central High School as the second African American to attend the school. Where she graduated from on June 23, 1889 as the only African American student.

Ida Dora Fairbush then became active in the civic, social, and religious activities of the African American community in Buffalo, New York. Fairbush was the organist for the Vine Street African Episcopal Church in 1888. While she was at the church, she worked on services, programs, interest, and personalities. As well as working with young people and the church's commitment to Wilberforce University. Fairbush also worked in church bazaars, fundraising events, advocacy, and social activities. 


In October of 1890, Fairbush was accepted into Wilberforce University. However in February of 1892 she was forced to pause her education due to being sick. Fairbush’s sickness led her to have to go home which brought a major impact to her education.

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Once Fairbush finished school, she became the first black teacher in the public schools in Buffalo, New York. Since she was the first black teacher in the public schools, she made the news all around the country. Eventually Fairbush retired in June of 1937 after teaching for 40 years. 

Unfortunately Ida Dora Fairbush died on September 20, 1945.

Thank you to our sources:

We want to give a special thanks to Google Drive for providing the information for this story. Further readings on Ida Dora Fairbush are available on their website.

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