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 ...]

Edmonia Highgate


Teacher of Former Slaves in the South

Teaching in the South during the Reconstruction era (1865-1877) took great courage. The women who traveled there to teach often feared for their lives but were determined to empower the freed slaves through literacy.

Image: The Misses Cooke's school room, Freedman's Bureau, Richmond, Va. In Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1866 Nov. 17, Library [Read More ...]

Sarah Mapps Douglass


African American Abolitionist and Teacher

Sarah Mapps Douglass was born in Philadelphia on September 9, 1806, the daughter of renowned abolitionists Robert Douglass, Sr. and Grace Bustill Douglass. Like many prosperous families, the Douglasses educated Sarah and her brother Robert at home with private tutors.

Image: Sarah Mapps Douglass: Faithful Attender of Quaker Meeting: View from the Back Bench by [Read More ...]

Charlotte Forten


Women in Education: Teacher of Emancipated Slaves

Charlotte Forten was the first northern African American schoolteacher to go south to teach former slaves. As a black woman, she hoped to find kinship with the freedmen, but her own education set her apart from the former slaves. For two years she stayed on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, but ill health [Read More ...]