From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Dunbar, Matilda

(born: 1848  -  died: 1934) 

Mother of Paul Laurence Dunbar, she was born Matilda Murphy in Shelby County. She left Kentucky after the ratification of the 13th Amendment freed all slaves in Kentucky. Dunbar, who outlived her son by 28 years, kept his library until her death. Dunbar House is the first publicly-owned historic site to honor an African American (Dayton, OH). In 2006, the grave of Matilda's youngest child and only girl, Elizabeth Florence Dunbar, was placed next to her mother's grave in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton Ohio. The child had died at the age of 2 from sickness and malnutrition and was buried in a potter's field. Shortly after Elizabeth's death, Joshua Dunbar and Matilda divorced. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed.; African American Women: a Biographical Dictionary (1993), by D. Salem; and M. McCarty, "Dunbar family together," Dayton Daily News, 02/12/06, Local section, p. B1.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Dunbar, Joshua
NKAA Source: In Black and white : a guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning more than 15,000 Black individuals and groups
NKAA Source: African American women : a biographical dictionary
NKAA Source: Dayton daily news (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Dunbar, Joshua
NKAA Entry:  Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Lexington, KY)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Dunbar, Matilda,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 27, 2022,

Last modified: 2017-12-13 02:27:32