Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Katherine Chaddock


This study examined school founding practices of Northern and Southern women educators who initiated primary schools for blacks during the Civil War, reconstruction, and progressive eras. Case study and historical methodologies contrasted two Northern white and two Southern black school founders in the areas of backgrounds, religious affiliations, educational philosophies, political astuteness, and resourcefulness. This study relied on in-depth reviews, content analyses, and cluster analyses of archives, biographies, personal diaries, newspapers, newsletters, and secondary literature to answer the research questions. Strikingly, Rachel Crane Mather and Mary McLeod Bethune’s missionary zeal emerged from their evangelical duty of converting lives to the Christian faith. Their missionary zeal merged with curricula demonstrating religious commitment and transmitting missionary zeal to students. Political acumen was requisite for effective resourcefulness and unlimited to specific techniques.

Interestingly, social, economic, and educational limitations produced political acumen shaping resourcefulness. Further, geographic regions, while mostly isolated, did not influence the longevity of their schools; instead, geographic regions enabled Southern school founders to use aggressive approaches to secure resources for their schools. Northern school founders inherited social capital from their families, friends, and social groups while Southern school founders acquired social capital through educational experiences.