Fact 17: First Black College for Women

On April 11, 1881, Spelman was the First College for Black Women,  It was founded by two school teachers and Baptist missionaries by the names Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles in the basement of Atlanta Friendship Baptist Church. The founders began to teach 11 women, who were motivated to learn basic education skills. At the time, the school was called Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary.


photo credit: spelman.edu








The ladies met with business philanthropist John Rockefeller at a church conference, and he gave them donations to the school. With his donations, the school was able to relocate to a 9 acre site and  was re-named to Spelman Seminary in honor of Rockefeller’s wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her family.


In 1891, Giles was the first president of the Seminary and she served for 18 years. During her time as president, 800 students enrolled and employed 30 teachers. The seminary offered high school diplomas and and college degrees.

On June 1, 1924, the seminary changed to Spelman College. Also, they were offered grants and donations from northern philanthropist, which expanded the college to 32 acres and 26 buildings.

photo credit: spelman.edu


The college now has 2,135 enrolled and is one of the Best Historical Black Colleges around. Famous people such as Alice Walker, writer of The Color Purple Book;  Esther Rolle,  who starred in Good Times; actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, known for her role in The Cosby Show Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; and actress A.J. Johnson for her roles in House Party and Baby have all attended Spelman and they are successful to this day.


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sources: georgiaencyclopedia.org; blackamericanweb.com; u-s-history.com





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