Juanita Harrison

Juanita Harrison 2, 2021, Acrylic on Canvas, 11 x 14 in.

Juanita Harrison, 1891 – 1967

Juanita Harrison was an African-American writer known for her autobiography, My Great, Wide, Beautiful World, which narrates her extensive travel abroad.

Harrison began her travels at the age of 16, traversing the world and exploring 22 countries all by herself. This was quite rare for her time.

Harrison funded her travels by working various jobs wherever she happened to be. She described being employed as a nurse, nanny, and cleaning lady, among other trades of a similar sort. Her initial money came from the investments of a former employer of Los Angeles, California, George W. Dickinson and Myra K. Dickinson. The Dickinsons invested portions of her salary in real estate and gave her the profits. Harrison had long expressed a love of travel and a need to see the world; these kind employers helped her get started. The investments soon yielded $200 in interest per year. Harrison dedicated the book to Myra Dickinson in an act of gratitude.

Once Harrison was on the road she stayed in YMCAs and was able to learn French and Spanish. 

Mississippi Encyclopedia

Digital download of her book from NY Public Library