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Sat, 03.04.1815

Mrytilla Miner, Educator born

Myrtilla Miner

*Myrtilla Miner was born on this date in 1815.  She was a white-American educator and abolitionist

From Brookfield, New York, Miner was educated at the Clover Street Seminary in Rochester, New York (1840–44), and taught at various schools, including the Newton Female Institute (1846–47) in Whitesville, Mississippi, where she was denied permission to conduct classes for Black girls.

In 1851 Miner opened the Normal School for Colored Girls in Washington, D.C. This was done at a time when slavery was still legal in the U.S. Within two months, the enrollment grew from 6 to 40, and, despite hostility from a portion of the community, the school prospered. Contributions from Quakers continued to arrive, and Harriet Beecher Stowe gave $1,000 of her Uncle Tom's Cabin royalties. The school was forced to move three times in its first two years, but in 1854 it settled on a 3-acre lot with a house and barn on the edge of the city. In 1856 the school came under the care of a board of trustees, Beecher and Johns Hopkins. Although the school offered primary schooling and classes in domestic skills, its emphasis from the outset was on training Black women to become teachers. 

Miner guided the school through its fruitful early years but had to lessen her connection because of failing health. In 1857, Emily Howland took over the school's leadership, and in 1861 Miner went to California to regain her health.  Miner's School was closed during the American Civil War. The school was eventually reopened and merged with other local institutions to become the University of the District of Columbia.

A carriage accident in 1864 ended Miner's health recovery; she died shortly after her return to Washington, DC. on December 17, 1864.  Miner's school for Black girls, established against considerable racist opposition, grew into the only public university in Washington, D.C., and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, Washington, DC.  Miner Elementary School in Washington, DC, is named in her honor. 

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