Early Illinois Women

Annie Turnbo Malone (1869-1957)

Annie Turnbo Malone achieved great success as a business woman. She is also remembered as a generous philanthropist.

Annie Turnbo was born in 1869 in Metropolis, near the far southern tip of Illinois. As a young woman, Annie developed hair care products which she sold door-to-door through the African American community of Lovejoy (now called Brooklyn), Illinois. In 1902, Annie moved her business to St. Louis. The 1904 World's Fair was held in St. Louis and Annie's business grew. She trained agents nationwide and began marketing her products under the name "Poro", a name which she copyrighted. One of Annie's agents was Madame C. J. Walker. Walker, often shares with Annie Turnbo the title the United States' first African American millionairess.

Annie built a factory and a beauty-training school in St. Louis that she named Poro College. The factory and the school employed and educated many African Americans. Later, Annie moved the factory to Chicago. By the 1920s, Annie Malone was a millionaire. She shared her wealth with many less fortunate than herself. For example, she served as the President and donated fund for the construction of the St. Louis Colored Orphan's Home, now known as the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center. She also donated large sums of money to schools and colleges for African Americans and supported many students.


  1. Smith, Jessie Carney, Ed. (1992) "Annie Turnbo Malone" in Notable Black American Women. Gale Research Inc, Detroit, Michigan., Pp. 724-726.

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