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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 1973
Birth: 1875 - Death: 1955
Born In: South Carolina, United States of America
Died In: Florida, United States of America
Achievements: Education
Educated In: South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois
Schools Attended: Scotia Seminary (Barber-Scotia College), Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions (Moody Bible Institute)
Worked In: Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, District of Columbia, New York

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Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary Jane McLeod was born in South Carolina, the fifteenth of seventeen children. Scholarships enabled her to attend Scotia Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. Turned down when she applied to go to Africa as a missionary, she returned to the South. She met and married Albertus Bethune, and began to teach school.

In Daytona, Florida, in 1904 she scraped together $1.50 to begin a school with just five pupils. She called it the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. A gifted teacher and leader, Mrs. Bethune ran her school with a combination of unshakable faith and remarkable organizational skills. She was a brilliant speaker and an astute fund raiser. She expanded the school to a high school, then a junior college, and finally it became Bethune-Cookman College.

Continuing to direct the school, she turned her attention to the national scene, where she became a forceful and inspiring representative of her people. First through the National Council of Negro Women, then within Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the National Youth Administration, she worked to attack discrimination and increase opportunities for Blacks. Behind the scenes as a member of the "Black cabinet," and in hundreds of public appearances, she strove to improve the status of her people.
Additional Sources:

Holt, Rackham. Mary McLeod Bethune: A Biography. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1964.

Sterne Emma Gelders. Mary McLeod Bethune. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1957.

Edited by Florence Hicks. Mary McLeod Bethune: Her Own Words of Inspiration. Washington, D.C.: DARE Books, 1975.

With Carolyn LaDelle Bennett. Annotated Bibliography Of Mary McLeod Bethune's ""Chicago Defender"" Columns-1948-1955. Edwin Meller Press, 2001.

Materials relating to Bethune as well as other subjects and organizations: Records 1935-1983 for National Council of Negro Women. National Archives for Black Women's History, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, National Park Service. Washington D.C.

Paper 1932-1942, ca 1 ft (505 items). Amistad Research Center, Tulane University. New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mary McLeod Bethune Papers: The Bethune Foundation Collection, Bethune-Cookman College. Daytona Beach, Florida.