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Garnet, Sarah Smith Tompkinslocked

(31 August 1831–17 September 1911)
  • Elizabeth L. Ihle

Extract

Garnet, Sarah Smith Tompkins (31 August 1831–17 September 1911), educator and suffragist, was born Minisarah J. Smith in Queens County, New York, the daughter of Sylvanus Smith and Ann Eliza Springsteel, farmers, who were of mixed Native American, black, and white descent. Although Garnet’s great-grandmother had established a school that her father attended, little is known about Garnet’s own early schooling other than that she was taught by her father. However, she was a teacher’s assistant at age fourteen with a salary of $20 per year while she studied at various normal schools in the Queens County area. By 1854 Garnet (known as Sarah) was teaching in the private African Free School in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In 1863 she became the first African-American principal appointed by the New York Public School System, serving at the all-black P.S. 80 from her appointment until her retirement in 1900....

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