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Diaz, Abby Morton (22 November 1821–01 April 1904), teacher, writer, and social reformer, was born Abigail Morton in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ichabod Morton, a shipbuilder, and Patty Weston. She descended from George Morton, author of “Mourt’s Relation,” the first printed record of the Plymouth settlement. After his wife’s early death, Abby’s father remarried and had five sons....

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Doyle, Sarah Elizabeth (23 March 1830–21 December 1922), educator and activist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of Thomas Doyle, a bookbinder, and Martha Dorrance Jones. Her father died when Sarah was eleven years old. Her brother, Thomas Arthur, was mayor of Providence between 1864 and 1886, possessing a strong commitment to public schools and urban planning. Sarah Doyle attended the local public grammar school, then entered Providence High School in 1843, its first year, graduating in 1846. She began nearly four decades of teaching immediately after high school, first teaching for ten years in private schools. In 1856 Doyle joined the girls department of Providence High, serving as department principal from 1878 until her retirement in 1892. Doyle was an active and influential teacher, responsible for supervising her colleagues. She was a vice president of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, a teachers’ continuing-education organization, and she headed the literature section of its reading circle for several years. Doyle impressed many of her women students with her skill and dedication, and several who became teachers founded the Sarah E. Doyle Club in her honor. Organized in 1894 for the “mutual assistance and culture of members,” for decades the club served hundreds of Providence teachers through lectures and classes. She became the first woman to preside over a meeting of the National Education Association when president Thomas Bicknell gave her the gavel for a single session in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1884....

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Slowe, Lucy Diggs (04 July 1885–21 October 1937), educator and club organizer, was born in Berryville, Virginia, the daughter of Henry Slowe and Fannie Porter. Orphaned by the age of six, Slowe was raised by her aunt, Martha Slowe Price in Lexington, Virginia, until the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, when Slowe was thirteen. In 1904 she finished second in her class at the Colored High School in Baltimore, and she entered Howard University in Washington, D.C., that same year. While enrolled at Howard, Slowe did well in her studies and became involved in many extracurricular activities, including the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority for African-American women in the nation....

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Smith, Lucy Harth (24 January 1888–20 September 1955), racial activist and educator, was born in Roanoke, Virginia, the daughter of Daniel Washington Harth, Jr., a minister and lawyer, and Rachel Emma Brockington. In 1904 she attended the normal department of the Hampton Institute in Virginia, completing both the high school and college courses in four years. Subsequently, she accepted an elementary school teaching post in Roanoke. Two years later, following her marriage to Paul Smith, a school administrator, she left the labor force; the couple had five children....

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Mary Church Terrell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-84496).

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Terrell, Mary Eliza Church (23 September 1863–24 July 1954), educator and social activist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Robert Reed Church, a businessman, and Louisa Ayres, a beautician and hair salon owner. Her father, a former slave, used his business acumen to become the first black millionaire in the South....

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Stephanie A. Carpenter

Yates, Josephine A. (15 November 1859–03 September 1912), educator, was born in Mattituck, Suffolk County, New York, the daughter of Alexander Silone and Parthemia Reeve. She attended schools in New York until she was eleven, at which time she went to live with an uncle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There she enrolled in the Institute for Colored Youth. Later Josephine moved to Newport, Rhode Island, and attended Rogers High School in that city. The only African-American student in her class, she graduated as valedictorian in 1877. She earned a teaching certificate enabling her to teach in public schools in Newport, the first African American to do so in that city. Yates then attended and graduated from the Rhode Island State Normal School in Providence in 1879, also the only African-American graduate that year. She later received an M.A. from National University in Illinois....