Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Wordless Wednesday: Mary Jane Patterson

September 16th, 2008 by Ajuan Mance

Mary Jane Patterson (d. 1894)

Mary Jane Patterson is very likely the first African American woman to graduate from a U.S. college or University. The photograph above depicts Ms. Patterson in 1862, the year that she graduated from Oberlin College. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she moved to Philadelphia where she work as an assistant to Fanny Jackson Coppin, at the Institute for Colored Youth (later named Cheyney University).

Mary Jane Patterson would go on to become to first African American principal at Washington, D.C.’s Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later renamed Dunbar High School).  To learn more about Patterson’s life, read her profile on African American Registry.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in African Americans, Black History, Black Students, Higher Education, Mary Jane Patterson, Oberlin College, race

9 Responses

  1. JennWasHere

    Wow that is great! Thanks for the information!

  2. Clinmike

    Great taching moment, not exactly wordless but good.

  3. Mojo

    Can’t imagine there were too many women of any race going to college in 1862. Miss Mary Jane was quite a trailblazer.

  4. Hootin' Anni

    Excellent….love the photo. love the history behind, thanks for sharing it with us this week.

    Mine’s posted if you’d like to stop by…it’s of one of my “children”….

  5. June

    What admiration I have for this woman…imagine what it took for her to do what she did.

  6. SjP

    I know…I’ve said it before…but I just love coming here!

    At SjP’s we’re looking for jessica banks-mohammed today.

  7. Gabriel

    Great post, with a very educating story!

    Thanks for your visit.

  8. Jim

    Hi Ajuan, we’ve had lots of trouble allowing the students at our mostly black university (Prarie View A&M University of Texas) vote as well.
    Each year it seems there are other reasons or else the old reasons for allowing the vote are forgotten. 🙂

    Thanks for peeking at my pigs for WW!
    We are sorta’ out of pocket for a bit due to Hurricane Ike.
    I do have my Ike Skywatch Friday picture up now. I have to make good use of my borrowed (in evacuation) computer time.

  9. Megan

    I believe she was also Langston Hughes’ grandmother!