Biographical Timeline

BIOGRAPHICAL TIMELINE – Note: I will be adding more and more pieces to this, continuously, as they become available to me.

(Please also see the Super-Search page for Paul LaurenceDunbar at => )
JUNE 27, 1872 – BORN, in Dayton, Ohio, the son of former slaves Joshua and Matilda Dunbar, at 311 Howard Street, his grandmother Elizabeth Burton’s house.
1873 – will be one year old on June 27
1874 – will be two years old on June 27

1875 – will be three years old on June 27

1876 – will be four years old on June 27

1877 – will be five years old on June 27

1878 – will be six years old on June 27
Began his public education in 1878 at the Fifth District School located on East Fifth Street near Eagle Street. Matilda, often referred to as Mother Dunbar, and her children still resided with her mother at 311 Howard Street when Paul started school.

1879 – will be seven years old on June 27
1880 – will be eight years old on June 27
The 1880 United States census shows Paul as seven years old, living in Dayton, Ohio, with his mother Matilda Dunbar, and two older half-brothers, Robert and William.
1881 – will be nine years old on June 27
1882 – will be ten years old on June 27
1883 – will be eleven years old on June 27
1884 – will be twelve years old on June 27
Recited original poem “Easter Hymn” at Eaker Street African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Dayton
1885 – will be thirteen years old on June 27
1886 – will be fourteen years old on June 27
1887 – will be fifteen years old on June 27
1888 – will be sixteen years old on June 27
1889 – will be seventeen years old on June 27
1890 – will be eighteen years old on June 27
1891 – will be nineteen years old on June 27

June 16 – Graduated from Central High School – Commencement Program
No money for college, so he worked locally as an elevator operator.
1892 – will be twenty years old on June 27
On his birthday, got his first big chance, spoke to meeting of Western Association Of Writers.
1893 – will be twenty-one years old on June 27

Published collection, OAK AND IVY (Dayton: Press of the United Brethren Publishing House, 1893
Invited to recite at the World’s Columbian Exposition (“Chicago World’s Fair”) where he met Frederick Douglass, who became a patron of Dunbar’s.
Employed by Douglass as a clerk in the Haytien (Haitian)Building.
(Please also see the Super-Search page for Frederick Douglass at => )
1894 – will be twenty-two years old on June 27
1895 – will be twenty-three years old on June 27

Publishes collection, MAJORS AND MINORS.
Starts corresponding with Alice Ruth Moore, a light-skinned black teacher and writer, originally from New Orleans, three years younger than himself.
(Please also see the Super-Search page for Alice Dunbar-Nelson at => )
1896 – will be twenty-four years old on June 27
May 18, 1896 – U. S. Supreme Court renders its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, upholding racial segregation and the constitutionality of the “separate but equal” doctrine. This decision overturned much of the civil rights legislation enacted after the Civil War, and enabled a new flood of discriminatory laws against African Americans.
On Dunbar’s birthday, his 1895 collection MAJORS AND MINORS receives a glowing one-page review by William Dean Howells, the nation’s most prominent literary critic. Overnight, Dunbar had become one of the most famous living Americans of African descent.
Publishes collection LYRICS OF THE LOWLY LIFE, which is a republication of OAK AND IVY and MAJORS AND MINORS, with introduction by William Dean Howells.

1897 – will be twenty-five years old on June 27
In January, went on a six-month tour in England intended to help his career, but he was bitterly disappointed that the tour seemed more like traveling freak show — including Tom Thumb, the “World’s Smallest Man” — than a literary opportunity.
At his departure party, he met Alice ruth Moore for the first time, although they had been corresponding by mail since 1895. He asks her to marry him, and they become engaged almost immediately after neeting for the very first time.
Paul goes to England without her.
After returning from England, he takes a job in the Library Of Congress, but it turns out to be a mostly-clerical job, and he leaves after only a few months.
Met Booker T. Washington
1898 – will be twenty-six years old on June 27
On March 16, Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore are married secretly, over the objections of her friends and family. The marriage lasts four years and is childless.
Resigned from Library of Congress Dec. 31, 1898, to spend full time writing and reciting.
1899 – will be twenty-seven years old on June 27
Published collection LYRICS OF THE HEARTHSIDE
Also published collection, POEMS OF CABIN AND FIELD
Collapsed and almost died in New York, May, 1899, during a trip to give a reading, reportedly of pheumonia.
Doctors detect tuberculosis
In the fall, he accepted a writing contract with The Denver Post, and moved to Harmon, Colorado, near Denver, with Alice and Matilda, following doctor’s advice to live there. Arrived in Denver Sept. 12, 1899.
1900 – will be twenty-eight years old on June 27
The 1900 United States Census shows Paul and Alice Ruth living together, married, in DC.
1901 – will be twenty-nine years old on June 27
Participates in President William McKinley’s second inauguration, rides a white horse in the parade.
Published collection, CANDLE-LIGHTIN’ TIME
1902 – will be thirty years old on June 27
In January 1902, Paul and Alice quarreled, and he left for New York while she remained in Washington.
In January, rumors of domestic violence between Paul and Alice.
Paul and Alice separate, but they are never divorced. Later he writes a sad poem about unfaithful wives XXX. After his death in 1906, she refers to herself as “the widow of Paul Laurence Dunbar.” “After the separation and a stay in New York City, Paul settled in Chicago where he rented a furnished flat for himself and his mother. During this time, Paul continued to travel and give recitations, although disabled at times by tuberculosis.”
1903 – will be thirty-one years old on June 27
Paul and his mother move to Dayton, fall, 1903, staying in a rented house. Paul is suffering from an advanced case of tuberculosis and is well aware that he may die soon.
Collection, WHEN MALINDY SINGS published.
Published collection, LYRICS OF LOVE AND LAUGHTER
1904 – will be thirty-two years old on June 27
On June 3, 1904, he purchased the house at 219 N. Summit Street in Dayton for his mother, and lived with her there until his death in 1906. (See Dunbar House)
Published collection, LI’L GIRL
1905 – will be thirty-three years old on June 27
Published collection HOWDY, HONEY, HOWDY
Also published collection, LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW
1906 – would have been thirty-four years old on June 27
February 9, 1906 – DIED, at Dayton, Ohio (Details coming soon))

Excellent local Dayton biography at