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 ...]

Eliza Porter


Civil War Nurse and Educator

Eliza Emily Chappell Porter was the first public school teacher at Fort Dearborn in Chicago. She established normal schools to train high school graduates to be teachers. As a member of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, she established hospitals for wounded soldiers and distributed supplies. The Porter home in Green Bay, Wisconsin [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 ...]

Margaret Douglass


Virginia Teacher of Free Black Children

In the first half of the nineteenth century a number of slave rebellions occurred, which frightened white citizens and underscored the need to maintain tight control over the literacy of blacks. In June 1852 Margaret Douglass, a white former slaveholder from South Carolina, began a school for free black children in her home in [Read More ...]