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*Oseola McCarty was born on this date in 1908. She was a Black domestic and philanthropist.
From Hattiesburg, Mississippi, at the age of 11 she had to drop-out of the sixth grade to help her mom take care of her ailing aunt. McCarty was never able to return to school and took a job as a washer for families that would hire her. She washed and ironed clothes for over 5 decades and officially retired when she was 75 years old.
Arthritis in her hands forced her to give up work in 1994. Over years of living her life McCarty regretted that she never got her full education and that she never became a nurse. But one goal that she had achieved was financial comfort.
McCarty had been able to save 100,000 dollars by carefully managing her income. After some deliberation, McCarty decided that she wanted to use the money for a higher purpose so she donated it. McCarty contributed all of her savings to students at the University of Southern Mississippi so that they could receive something she never did-an education. McCarty received several honors for her generous gift kindness. She was invited to the White House by the President. She was asked to carry the Olympic Torch for the 1996 Olympics.
A collection of McCarty's views on life, work, faith, saving, and relationships can be found in her book, Simple Wisdom for Rich Living, published by Longstreet Press in 1996. Also in 1997 she got to live out her dream when she received and honorary doctorate from University of Southern Mississippi and Harvard University. She also holds a Community Heroes Award from the National Urban League, the Premier Black Woman of Courage Award from the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners, and the Achiever Award from the Aetna Foundation.
Oseola McCarty, the humble washerwoman who became the University of Southern Mississippi's most famous benefactor, died on Sept. 26, 1999 from cancer.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
MHN, P.O. Box 571,
Jackson, MS 39205