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Zelia Ball Page
*Zelia Ball Page was born on this date in 1850. She was a Black teacher.
Zelia R. Ball was born in Alexandria, Virginia, to a freedmen black woman who raised her in Washington, D. C. Her mother worked with the Underground Railroad, and fearing for her daughter's safety, she arranged with Dr. Peter Parker to assist her in taking her child to New England. Mother and child pretended to be slaves of Parker until they reached the port of New York and were able to make their way to Providence, Rhode Island. Once in Providence, the school systems were found to be lacking and Ball was sent to be educated in Boston.
In 1870, she entered Wilberforce University, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1875. Upon completing her schooling, Ball returned to Providence and applied to become a teacher in Washington, D. C. On June 27, 1878, she married Inman E. Page. That same year, the couple moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, to begin teaching at the Lincoln Institute. Page was hired as a science teacher, and her husband was initially the assistant principal, though he was promoted to principal in 1880. Page taught botany, physiology, and zoology and, in 1885, was appointed as matron. During this time, the couple had three children: Zelia N., Mary, and Inman, Jr., who died when he was seven. In 1891, Page organized the Union Training School to teach skills to poor Black youths and continued teaching at Lincoln for seven more years.
In 1898, the couple left Lincoln and moved to Langston, Oklahoma Territory, where her husband took up the post as the first head of the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (Langston University). Page was hired as the matron, and their daughter Zelia Breaux was hired as the music instructor of the new university. She also served as the Oklahoma officer for the Afro-American Council. In 1915, the couple left Oklahoma, moving to Macon, Missouri, where Inman became president of the Colored Baptist College. Within three years, they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where her husband served as president of Roger Williams University, and Page continued teaching.
They briefly returned to Lincoln Institute before moving again to Oklahoma in 1924. Zelia Page, who spent her career teaching black youths in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, died at her daughter's home from heart complications on July 15, 1937. Page's contributions to educating Black youth were widely recognized in her lifetime.
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