Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fanny Jackson-Coppin's aunt purchased her for 125 dolllars

 Fanny Jackson Coppin by JerryOrr at Wikipedia

I have always wanted to discover more stories about specific African American women during the Civil War.  I found the autobiography REMINISCENCES of School Life, and Hints on Teaching by Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913) who was born a slave in Washington DC were she first recounts being sent to live with her grandmother at three years old to keep her company. 

Her grandmother was also her caretaker and her grandfather purchased her aunt Sarah and some of his other children, but for some reason, he would not purchase Fanny's mother, Lucy.  This left Fanny in the care of her aging grandmother while her mother went out to work.

Fanny suffered two severe burns during these occasions.  Once she had been tied to a chair too close to the stove, and when her stockings were removed, the skin from the side of the leg near the stove came off with it.  She did not know what the word meant, but every night she would hear her grandmother ask God to bless her "offspring."

Her Aunt Sarah was able to find a job making six dollars a month.  She saved on hundred and twenty-five dollars and purchased Fanny's freedom.  She went to live with an aunt in New Bedford, Massachusetts where she was allowed to attend school as long as she did not have washing, ironing, or cleaning to do.

At 14, Fanny was able to go to live with another aunt who was related by marriage until she followed her desire to take care of herself. She found a more permanent place and attended both public school and took private lessons.  She discovered she had the desire to teach, and with the help of Aunt Sarah, she was able to enter Oberlin College in 1860 which was the only college in the United States that African Americans could attend.  Oberlin had the same course of study as Havard at the time.

Fanny had occasion to teach classes herself during her junior year.   During her senior year she had the opportunity to teach  some of the freedmen who came from the South and settled in Oberlin. See REMINISCENCES of School Life, and Hints on Teaching, page 18.

Fanny graduated from Oberlin in August of 1865.  She speaks of riots in New York andvery bitter feelings being projected against African Americans in 1863 because people believed they were responsible for the war.  She began teaching at Oberlin in 1865.  See REMINISCENCES of School Life, and Hints on Teaching,  page 19.

I would encourage you to read her book, REMINISCENCES of School Life, and Hints on Teaching.  I only have touched on a few events in her life during slavery and before 1865.  Her pioneering efforts in education were immense, and she shares her interesting techniques for teaching reading, math and more.  Her story takes away any accuse a person could offer for not realizing success.
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Coppin, Fanny Jackson. 1913. Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching. Documenting the American South. University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Date added 1999. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/jacksonc/jackson.html

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