Beauty parlors were the most prevalent form of black business in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. A great example is this pioneering beauty entrepreneur Harlem’s Rose Morgan in a 1961 advertisement above for Gleem toothpaste (sorry for the blurriness).
Ms. Morgan owned Rose Morgan’s House of Beauty at 148th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Hamilton heights, a salon she opened in Harlem in the 1940s that she eventually expanded to include a dressmaking department, a charm school and a wig salon. Ms. Morgan competed with Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Shoppe, the Poro School, and the Apex School owned by Sarah Spencer-Washington.
Rose Morgan, was on three floors of 401 West 148th Street, which was also known as 757 St. Nicholas Avenue. Late in the 1940′s, it was called a “gay” scandal when Ms. Morgan was discovered with singer Marion Bruce in a situation of compromising intimately (source).
In 1965, she was a co-founder of the black-owned Freedom National Bank in New York. A former wife of boxing legend Joe Louis, her celebrity clientele (long before her marriage) included Lena Horne, Ethel Waters and my aunt, opera singer Margaret Tynes (source).
If you know more about Ms. Morgan’s story please share with us in the Comment section below or on our Harlem History Facebook page here.
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