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Fanny Jackson Coppin


Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913) was born into slavery in Washington, DC; an aunt purchased her freedom in early childhood. Determined to get an education, she used money earned as a domestic servant to pay a tutor, and later attended public schools. She hoped to become a teacher, and work to make education available to all black Americans. As a student at Oberlin College in the 1860s, Coppin established an evening school for freed slaves, and was the second African American woman to graduate from the college. Coppin took a position as principal of the female department at the Institute for Colored Youth, a Quaker academy in Philadelphia, where she was later promoted to principal of the school--the highest educational appointment held by a black woman at that time. Coppin anticipated Booker T. Washington's call for vocational training for African Americans, establishing an industrial department at the Institute in the 1880s. This first trade school for African Americans in Philadelphia was an immediate success and had a waiting list for admission throughout its existence. In poor health, Coppin retired as principal in 1902. Coppin State College in Baltimore is named in her honor.
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