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Grace Morris Allen Jones
*Grace Morris Allen Jones was born on this date in 1876. She was a Black educator, school administrator, clubwoman, and writer.
Grace Morris Allen was born in Keokuk, Iowa, to James Addison Morris and Mary Ellen Morris, née Pyles. The family was educated and well-off financially. Grace's grandmother was abolitionist Charlotta Gordon Pyles, and she would later write an article about her family for The Palimpsest, entitled 'The Desire for Freedom.' In 1891, Allen became the first African American to graduate from Burlington High School and the University of Iowa. She was known as 'the Sunday school girl of Iowa' for her active work in the area's Sunday schools. She also established the first integrated kindergarten in Burlington. After earning her teacher's certificate from the Normal School in Burlington, Allen taught for three years in Missouri.
In 1902, she returned to Burlington and established the Grace M. Allen Industrial School 'for colored youth.' The school employed black and white staff, and its success and reputation led white students to attend. After the school's closure in 1906, she studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Allen was a fundraiser, public speaker, and financial agent for education, including for the Ambidexter Institute of Springfield, Illinois, and Eckstein-Norton Normal and Industrial Institute of Cane Springs, Kentucky.
She married Laurence C. Jones in 1912. The two had met years earlier when Laurence Jones delivered a speech in an Iowan church and later reconnected when he returned to the state. She became an Executive Secretary and teacher of English at Piney Woods Country Life School. At Piney Woods, Grace Allen Jones was a teacher, administrator, fundraiser, and organizer of women's clubs. She established and ran Mothers' Clubs, which made connections with the Mississippi State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, of which she was President from 1918 to 1923. The Jones raised funds to repair the Old Folks Home in Vicksburg, Mississippi and was one of its trustees.
She was also a Women's Christian Union President and, in 1925, served as a statistician for the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Jones worked actively to improve the lives of women and children of color, using the women's clubs to promote education, provide resources, and improve childcare. She was also active in prison reform in Mississippi and was instrumental in building a reform school, the Margaret Murray Washington Home for Delinquent Youths.
Jones worked with the Mississippi Board of Education to teach African American state and national history. She achieved a State provision for libraries for segregated black public schools and established a school for blind black students. Grace Morris Allen Jones died from the after-effects of pneumonia on March 2, 1928.