Gwen Reed

Gwen Reed, circa 1950’s – Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library

Gwen Reed (1912-1974)

Gwen Reed was an actor and educator who grew up working in the tobacco fields around Hartford. After graduating Hartford Public High School and spending a brief period studying law, she became secretary for the Charles Gilpin Players who performed as part of the Connecticut Federal Theatre Project’s “Negro Unit.” Before long she began acting in productions and became a regular in Hartford’s community theaters. From 1946 until 1963, the Quaker Oats Company made her a national star as the fictional spokesperson “Aunt Jemima.” Reed used her fame and her character’s appeal to reach children through a variety of literacy and other educational programs.

Learn More


Hartford Public Library. “Hartford History Center,” 2016. Link


“A Guide to the Gween Reed Collection.” Hartford Public Library. Hartford History Center, 2013. Link.