African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Ethel Caution-Davis: Author Page

This bio was researched and written by Sarah Thompson in the summer of 2024. 

Ethel Caution-Davis (1880-1981) was a teacher, poet, journalist, dean of a university, and public servant. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she overcame significant early adversities following the deaths of her birth parents and adoptive mother. Raised in Boston and educated at Girls Latin School and Wellesley College, graduating in 1912. During her time at Wellesley, she began her literary career, contributing poems and essays to Wellesley Magazine and Wellesley News. After graduation, she pursued a teaching career in Durham, North Carolina, and Kansas City, Kansas, before becoming the dean of women at Talladega College in Alabama. Unmarried and self-supporting, she later moved to New York City, where she worked in public assistance and as a director of a residence club for single women until her retirement. Despite near-total blindness in her later years, she remained intellectually engaged through the help of a volunteer reader and audiobooks, living to the age of 101 and passing away in New York City. 

Caution-Davis’ poetic output, though limited, was critically acclaimed and featured in periodicals such as The Crisis (see “To…” which won third prize in the 1927 poetry competition), Durham Advocate, and The Brownies’ Book for children. Her work is distinguished by its empathetic focus on women’s experiences and stylistic accessibility. Her most renowned poem, “Long Remembering” is celebrated for its intricate rhyme scheme and reflects her appreciation for travel and diverse landscapes. 

Works Cited
Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. United States, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.
Maureen Honey, Ed. Shadowed Dreams: Women's Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. New Brunswick: Rutgers University 
      Press, 2006.

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