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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Women's History
Spelman College for Black Women



Spelman College for Black Women
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.3

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    academic, anti-slavery, devout, founders, generosity, liberal, tenure, undergraduate, vision, education, slavery, eleventh, impressed, worthy, death, schools
     content words:    Harriet Giles, Sophia Packard, Civil War, Frank Quarles, Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, New England, John D., Spelman Seminary, Rockefeller Hall


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Spelman College for Black Women
By Jane Runyon
  

1     It started with a vision. The vision belonged to two young, white schoolteachers from Massachusetts. Not only were Harriet Giles and Sophia Packard schoolteachers, they were Baptist missionaries. They believed in spreading the faith of their church to others. Their vision was to provide education to black women who had won their freedom from slavery through the Civil War.
 
2     Giles and Packard arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1881. They contacted Frank Quarles of the Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. They shared their dream of educating black women with him. Their home church in Medford, Massachusetts, had given them $100 to see their dream become a reality. He saw a future in their vision. He offered them the use of the basement in his church.
 
3     A school for women was born in that basement. It was named the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. The first class had eleven students. Ten were women who had been slaves. The eleventh was a young girl eager for an education.
 
4     Word quickly spread of this new opportunity. It wasn't long before the basement was full. They needed to expand. Giles and Packard knew they needed financial help to meet the needs of their students. They returned to Massachusetts in 1882 looking for donations to their cause. They spoke at religious conferences in New England and the Midwest to stir up interest.
 
5     It was at one of these conferences they found the help they needed. John D. Rockefeller was a very rich man. He had made millions of dollars through oil. He was also a devout Baptist. He gave money to many causes he thought were worthy Baptist endeavors. He listened to Giles and Packard. After their speech, he talked with them. He promised them that he would help them financially if they stuck with their plan.

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