Mary Jane Patterson


First African American Woman to Graduate from College

Mary Jane Patterson was the first African American woman to earn a bachelor's degree (Oberlin College, 1862). She became a successful teacher and was later appointed as the first black principal at America's first public high school for blacks (Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, Washington, DC, 1871). Patterson spent her career [Read More ...]

Ann Preston


First Woman Medical School Dean

Ann Preston (December 1, 1813–April 18, 1872) was a doctor and educator of women in Pennsylvania. One of the most notable achievements of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 19th century was the role it played in the entrance of women into medicine. Ann Preston was one of those pioneer Quaker women doctors.

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Laura Haviland


Founded First School for Children of All Races

Laura Haviland (1808-1898) was an American abolitionist, suffragist and pioneer social reformer who operated a station on the Underground Railroad in southeastern Michigan. Haviland also established Michigan's first school for children of all races. This post includes direct quotes from her autobiography, A Woman's Life-Work.

Early Years
Laura Smith was born [Read More ...]

Elizabeth Peabody


Founder of the First Public Kindergarten

Elizabeth Peabody (1804–1894), the oldest of the three Peabody sisters of Salem, was one of the most important women of her time. She was an educator and education reformer who opened the first kindergarten in the United States. Long before most teachers, Peabody embraced the premise that children's play has intrinsic developmental and educational [Read More ...]

Laura Towne


Teacher of Emancipated Slaves

When Union forces occupied St. Helena Island off the coast of South Carolina, plantation owners fled, leaving behind their homes, possessions and 10,000 slaves. Northern women like Laura Towne and Charlotte Forten volunteered to educate the freedmen and prepare them for economic independence.

Image: Laura Towne class among the live oaks
St. Helena Island, South [Read More ...]

Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson


Women in Education: Founder of Clemson University

Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson (1817-1875) was the daughter of the prominent U.S. Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun. She was very well educated and worked with her father in Washington, DC, where she met and later married Thomas Green Clemson. The land Anna Maria inherited after her mother's death included Calhoun's Fort [Read More ...]