Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

What was the first college founded to educate black women?

Hartshorn Memorial College, the first black women’s college in the country, opened on November 7, 1883. It began in Richmond, Virginia, in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church, with fifty-eight students. It was chartered on March 13 by the Virginia legislature as “an institution of learning of collegiate grades for the education of young women.” The college awarded its first degrees in 1892, when three young women graduated: Mary Moore Booze, Harriet Amanda Miller, and Dixie Erma Williams. The college was never well funded and struggled to fulfill its mission as a college for black women. In 1918 Hartshorn students began enrolling in courses at nearby Virginia Union University; by 1922 Hartshorn had entered into an agreement for educating its students at Virginia Union. Rather than merge with Virginia Union, in June 1928 Hartshorn officials closed the college department and focused on its high school. In 1932 the college trustees conveyed the school’s property to Virginia Union, merged with the school, and became Hartshorn Memorial College in the Virginia Union University.



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