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Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, the second child of ten, is born in Virginia to mixed-race Nanny Logan and born-slave Henry Beard Delany.  It is 24 years after the Civil War ended.

The number of states in the union increases from 38 to 42.


Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, the third child in the family, is born in North Carolina.

There are 112 recorded lynchings.


Sadie is 7.  Bessie is 5.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” public accommodations are legal.


Sadie is 11.  Bessie is 9.

Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery is published.  W.E.B. DuBois proclaims, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”

Scientists transmit human speech by radio waves for the first time.

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 49.


Sadie is 14.  Bessie is 12.

The first motor car company is founded, and the first powered airplane is flown.


Sadie is 21.  Bessie is 19.

Halley’s Comet makes its first 20th Century appearance.


Sadie is 25.  Bessie is 23.

All southern states now have “Jim Crow Laws” relegating black Americans to a lower status than white Americans.


Bessie (26) follows Sadie (28) to Harlem.

The United States enters World War I. 

There are 10 million phones in the U.S.


Sadie (29) graduates from Pratt Institute and continues her education at Columbia University.


World War I ends.

Bessie (28) attends Columbia Dental School, and the sisters rent their first apartment in Harlem (2505 7th Avenue at 145th Street).

Alcohol becomes illegal when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution is passed.


Sadie (31) graduates from Columbia Teachers College and starts her first teaching job at P.S. 119 in Harlem.

American women win the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment.


Bessie (32) graduates from Columbia Dental School.


Sadie (36) finishes her Master’s Degree in education at Columbia University.  Bessie (34) starts her dental practice.


Sadie is 40.  Bessie is 38.

The 22-year-old Cab Calloway performs at The Cotton Club in Harlem.

The U.S. stock market crashes.


Sadie (41) becomes the first African-American to teach domestic science in a N.Y.C. high school.

Paul Robeson performs Othello in London.


Fiorello LaGuardia becomes mayor of New York City. He will serve until 1945.

1936 –

Sadie is 47.  Bessie is 45.

African-American Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in the Olympics in Berlin.  Adolf Hitler refuses to shake his hand.


Sadie (52) and Bessie (50) move to 80 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem.

The U.S. enters World War II by declaring war on Japan.

Average life expectancy in the U.S. is 64.


Sadie (56) and Bessie (54) move to the Bronx.

Atom bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, putting an end to World War II.


Bessie (59) retires from her dental practice.

The Korean War begins.

 Poet Gwendolyn Brooks is the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize.

 1954 -

The system of “separate but equal” is overturned by the Supreme Court in its Brown v. Board of Education decision which said separate educational facilities were “inherently unequal.”


Sadie is 66.  Bessie is 64.

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. Jonas Salk develops the polio vaccine.


Sadie (68) and Bessie (66) move to Mount Vernon, NY

1959 -

Alaska and Hawaii are admitted to the union, becoming the 49th and 50th states.


Sadie (71) retires.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s novel about prejudice, is published.


Sadie is 74.  Bessie is 72.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech.

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

1968 – Sadie is 79.  Bessie is 77.

Richard Nixon is elected President.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy are assassinated.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is passed. It prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing.


Sadie is 80.  Bessie is 78.

Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon.


Sadie is 83.  Bessie is 81.

Sixteen African Americans, including two women, are elected to Congress.


Sadie is 97.  Bessie is 95.

Halley’s Comet returns.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is declared a national holiday.


Sadie celebrates her 100th birthday.

David Dinkins is elected mayor of New York, the first African American to head the government of the nation’s largest city.


Bessie celebrates her 100th birthday.

Amy Hill Hearth writes a feature article on the Delany sisters for The New York Times.

1993 –

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100

Years is published.  Sadie is 104.  Bessie is 102.


The play Having Our Say opens on Broadway.

The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom is published.

Sadie is 106.  Bessie Delany dies at age 104.

1999 –

The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 76.

Sadie Delany dies at age 109.