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Maria L. Baldwin
Maria Louise Baldwin, a Black teacher, was born on this date in 1856.
Maria Baldwin was the oldest daughter of Peter L. and Mary E. Baldwin of Cambridge, MA, where she spent all of her school days. At the age of five, she entered the Sargent Primary School, attended the Allston Grammar School, and finally the Cambridge High School, graduating in 1874.
She entered the training school for teachers in the same city and graduated from there one year later. Her first teaching experience was in Chestertown, MD, where she did excellent work for two years. In 1881, she was appointed as a teacher of primary grades in the public schools of Cambridge. In 1889, after teaching in all the grades from the first to the seventh, Baldwin was made principal of the Agassiz School.
She hesitated about accepting this position for a long time, her native modesty making her feel she was not worthy to step into the place held by so fine a person as her predecessor. But upon being urged she decided to take it on condition that if at the end of a certain time the Board of Education was not satisfied with her, or she was satisfied that she was not the one for the place, she would return to her former position. She remained principal for four years.
In April 1916, when the school was torn down and a new building was erected at a cost of $60,000, Baldwin was made Master of the new Agassiz School, one of but two women Masters in the city of Cambridge. Baldwin remained Master for 40 years. The school, including all grades from kindergarten to the eighth, was one of the best in the city and attended by children of professors and many of the old Cambridge families. The 12 teachers under Baldwin and the five hundred pupils were all white.
Baldwin was always a student. She took many courses from professors at Harvard and other colleges. She was a great reader, both intensive and extensive, and her fine library was an example of her range. Maria Baldwin died on January 9, 1922.
The 1916 Agassiz School building was torn down in 1993, and in 1995, a new Agassiz School building was dedicated. On February 12, 2004, this school was officially renamed the Maria L. Baldwin School.
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture: An Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York