Pioneers of Early Childhood Education: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide

By Barbara Ruth Peltzman | Go to book overview

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) and The National Association of Colored Women
Terrell believed that educating young children would build the foundation for future generations.After graduating from Oberlin College Terrell taught at Wilberforce University and in the District of Columbia's black public schools. She continued as a lecturer after her marriage. As the first president of the National Association of Colored Women, Terrell continued her work in education through the development of projects for children. Terrell used her leadership, knowledge of teaching, and her teaching to encourage the development of kindergartens and nursery schools for black children throughout the United States.Through the National Association of Colored Women and its local clubs, African-American women made the following contributions to early childhood education: model kindergartens were established in Washington, D.C. in 1896; in 1896-1898 the Washington Colored Woman's League established a Normal School managed by Anna Evans Murray to train teachers for six free kindergartens; Mothers' Meetings were developed to provide information on childcare for working women; the donations of clothing and shoes; and the establishment of kindergartens throughout the South. Club work in New York, Chicago, and Detroit established kindergartens to assist with the immigration from rural South to urban centers. Anna Evans Murray appealed before Congress and received the first federal funds for kindergartens. Frances A. Joseph established the first kindergarten for black children in New Orleans. Other efforts by African-American women resulted in the establishment of day nurseries in Philadelphia and Englewood, New Jersey; orphanages and settlement house programs; the National Training School for Colored Girls in Washington, D.C., for employment skills; teacher training schools at centers such as Tuskegee; and a variety of community social services programs. Gerda Lerner ( 1972) states that "the history of the black woman's contribution to education during and after Reconstruction remains to be written." The work of the club women under the leadership of Terrell is a vital part of that history. Specific club women's lives need further research, however, their commitment to early childhood education was truly pioneering work.
PRIMARY SOURCES
426. Atlanta University Annual Second Conference for the Study of Problems Concerning Negro City Life May 25-26, 1897. ed. W. E.B. Du Bois. Atlanta: Atlanta University, 1897. Reports given by Lucy C.Laney on the

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