- Myrtilla Miner
Myrtilla Miner was a teacher who decided to start a school to educate African-American girls.
In 1815, Myrtilla was born on this day to a poor family near Brookfield, New York. With the help of loans, she went to school and became a teacher. She taught in New York, and then went to Mississippi to pay off her school debt. In Mississippi, Myrtilla saw slavery firsthand. She asked permission to hold classes for African-American girls in the community. She was refused.
When illness forced her to leave Mississippi and return north, Myrtilla found that freed slaves were not much better off than the slaves she had seen in Mississippi. Many were banned from public schools. With the financial aid from a Quaker philanthropist, donations of school supplies from friends, and the encouragement of Rev. Henry Beecher Stowe (whose sister, Harriet, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin), Myrtilla decided to open a school in 1851 for African-Americans who wished to become teachers. Initially Myrtilla held classes in her home. But when she began receiving threats, benefactors helped her find a more permanent (and safer) location.
Within five years, six graduates of the Normal School for Colored Girls were teaching in schools.
Myrtilla Miner died December 17, 1864.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw