Syracuse’s sweet past, the story of Aunt Jemima

The Post-Standard, 1954

Pictured above is the grave marker of Anna Short Harrington, otherwise known as ‘Aunt Jemima’. Harrington was born in 1897, in Bennettsville, South Carolina before a family brought her to Syracuse to work as a maid. In 1935, she was cooking pancakes at the New York State Fair when she was discovered by Quaker Oats and hired to play the role of ‘Aunt Jemima’, a role that was available after her predecessor had died in a car accident years earlier. Harrington went on to portray the role for 14 years, traveling the nation to make personal appearances as ‘Aunt Jemima’.

Harrington owned a 22-room house at 117 Monroe Street where she often rented rooms to boarders. She was also known to visit local schools and cook for fraternity houses at Syracuse University. Following a short illness, she died in 1955 at the age of 58 and was buried in Morningside-Oakwood Cemetery. Her former home was later demolished to make way for Interstate-81.