Cover image for This noble woman : Myrtilla Miner and her fight to establish a school for African American girls in the slaveholding South
This noble woman : Myrtilla Miner and her fight to establish a school for African American girls in the slaveholding South
First edition.
Physical Description:
216 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Learn about Myrtilla Miner and her dreams of opening a school for African American girls in the slaveholding South.


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Book TEEN 371.8299 GRE 1 1

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Frederick Douglass dismissed Myrtilla's plan to open a school for African American girls in the slaveholding South as "reckless, almost to the point of madness." But Myrtilla Miner, the daughter of poor white farmers in Madison County, New York, was relentless. Fueled by an unyielding feminist conviction, and against a tide of hostility, on December 3, 1851, the fiery educator and abolitionist opened the School for Colored Girls--the only school in Washington, DC, dedicated to training African American students to be teachers. Although often in poor health, Myrtilla was a fierce advocate for her school, fending off numerous attacks, including stonings, arson, and physical threats, and discouraging local "rowdies" by brandishing her revolver with open displays of target practice. The school would gradually gain national fame and stimulate a nationwide debate on the education of black people. Myrtilla's School for Colored Girls would slowly flourish through the years, and its mission exists even today through the University of the District of Columbia. This Noble Woman is the first modern biography of Myrtilla Miner for young adults, and includes historic photos, source notes, a bibliography, and a list of resources for further exploration.

Author Notes

Michael Greenburg , a practicing attorney and former editor of the Pepperdine Law Review , is the author of Peaches and Daddy , The Mad Bomber of New York , and The Court-Martial of Paul Revere .

Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

An introduction to the life of Myrtilla Miner, a white woman who made groundbreaking achievements in education for African-American girls.Born in poverty in 1815 to New York farmers, Miner was an unhealthy child who worked hard on the family farm. As she pursued schooling, she noticed stark differences in the education of girls versus that of boys. More interested in academics than homemaking, she became passionate about women's right to equal education, writing letters to the governor of New York demanding change. An abolitionist and feminist, she accepted a teaching appointment in Mississippi with the goal of learning more about slavery and possible solutions. The horrors of slavery that she witnessed there and her disgust with the moral hypocrisy of slaveholders affected her greatly and ultimately determined her life's work. Moving to Washington, D.C., she opened her School for Colored Girls in 1851, working to impart a high-quality education as well as ladylike manners. The school carried on in various forms, later becoming the Miner Teachers College, now part of Howard University. The text draws heavily on direct quotations from primary sources that bring individuals to life, and frequent one-page summaries of historical personalities, events, and movements provide further information.Miner's personality, experiences, and historical context are woven together to create a vivid picture of a remarkable and little-known woman's achievements. (resources, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Myrtilla Miner grew up with a passion for gender and racial equality. Born frail and sickly, she would continually battle lifelong health issues, yet was spirited and determined about the issues she cared about. Pursuing her passion for teaching, she landed a job in the South, where she witnessed the horrors of slavery close-up. Myrtilla attempted to gain support among her white and black friends for opening a school, but found few supporters. It was a meeting with Frederick Douglass that gave her hope, even as she was faced with angry mobs and harassment. Miner did open her school, and even though her temperament caused her to lose support and teachers, she still managed to secure a place where African American girls could be taught. Greenburg does not hold back in discussing Miner's own biases in teaching, but ultimately shows how she was able to pioneer education, an effort with ramifications still being felt today. Bolstered by small black-and-white photos, this is a detailed look at a flawed but notable woman.--Bratt, Jessica Anne Copyright 2010 Booklist

Table of Contents

Prologue: To Preserve a Memoryp. 1
1 A Country Girlp. 7
2 Awakeningp. 21
3 Mississippip. 33
4 "The Antislavery Altar of My Country"p. 47
5 "I Shall Try It!"p. 65
6 "National Only in Name"p. 77
7 "The School for Colored Girls"p. 89
8 Growing Painsp. 105
9 Exhilaration and Exhaustionp. 117
10 "William the Unlucky"p. 131
11 "A Perpetual and Impassable Barrier"p. 141
12 This Noble Womanp. 151
Epilogue: "You Are That Monument"p. 173
Acknowledgmentsp. 181
Resources for Further Explorationp. 183
Notesp. 187
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 211