This Noble Woman: Myr­tilla Miner and Her Fight to Es­tab­lish a School for African Amer­i­can Girls in the Slave­hold­ing South

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction / Juvenile / Ya - JEFF FLEISCHER

Michael M. Green­burg Chicago Re­view Press (AU­GUST) Soft­cover $12.99 (240pp) 978-0-912777-11-5

Myr­tilla Miner was an im­por­tant abo­li­tion­ist who took the bold step of open­ing a school for Africanamer­i­can girls in Wash­ing­ton DC in the years lead­ing up to the Civil War. Michael M. Green­burg in­tro­duces young read­ers to this often over­looked pi­o­neer in This Noble Woman, telling Miner’s story in an en­ter­tain­ing and ac­ces­si­ble way.

Orig­i­nally from New York, Miner en­coun­tered slav­ery and racism first­hand while teach­ing at a school in Mis­sis­sippi. Both­ered by the un­fair treat­ment of African-amer­i­cans, she tried un­suc­cess­fully to de­seg­re­gate the school, en­list­ing the help of fu­ture Sec­re­tary of State Wil­liam Se­ward and leg­endary ac­tivist and for­mer slave Fred­er­ick Dou­glass.

Af­ter mov­ing to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, she achieved her goal of teach­ing African-amer­i­can girls with the 1851 open­ing of the Nor­mal School for Col­ored Girls. By law, slaves could not be ed­u­cated, but her school opened doors for free African-amer­i­can girls, some of whom went on to spread Miner’s le­gacy by be­com­ing teach­ers. Given the time and lo­ca­tion, her school was reg­u­larly the tar­get of threats, and even some abo­li­tion­ists feared it was too risky an en­deavor.

Green­burg tells Miner’s story well. He tracks her life from cra­dle to grave, de­tail­ing the nu­mer­ous chal­lenges that she and her school faced. He doesn’t shy away from Miner’s darker side, in­clud­ing her some­times ag­gres­sive dis­ci­plin­ing of stu­dents and her late-in-life trou­bles, but he de­tails them without di­min­ish­ing her mon­u­men­tal achieve­ments.

This Noble Woman is valu­able in its cov­er­age of the Civil War era and the his­tory of ed­u­ca­tion in the United States, and Myr­tilla Miner emerges as a fig­ure more peo­ple should know about.

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