Nannie Helen Burroughs
Nannie Helen Burroughs, (May 2, 1878 – May 20, 1961) was an African-American educator, orator, religious leader, civil rights activist, feminist and businesswoman. She gained national recognition for her 1900 speech "How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping," at the National Baptist Convention. On October 19, 1901, she founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C. It has since been renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School in her honor and provides education for the elementary grades.
Nannie Helen Burroughs was born on May 2, 1878, in Orange, Virginia. Her parents were John and Jennie Burroughs. Her father was born free and her mother was born a slave in Virginia. He attended the Richmond Institute and became a preacher. Her father was a farmer and itinerant Baptist preacher; her mother was a cook. In 1883, she relocated to Washington D.C. with her mother. Burroughs' parents were associated with a small and fortunate class of ex-slaves that possessed the energy and ability to begin working towards prosperity almost as soon as the war freed them.
In 1896, Burroughs helped establish the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). In 1897, Burroughs started work as an associate editor at the Christian Banner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1902 she studied business and received an honorary A.M. degree from Eckstein-Norton University in Kentucky in 1907.
From the period of 1898 to 1909 Burroughs moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to work as a bookkeeper and editorial secretary for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. This was the national association of black Baptist churches. After the American Civil War, black congregations quickly withdrew from white-dominated churches to create churches independent of white supervision. They had a few at that time, but soon had many more. Within several years, they were setting up state Baptist associations and, by the end of the 19th century, national associations. This is still the largest black Baptist denomination.
In 1901, Burroughs founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C. After her death, in 1961 it was renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School in her honor, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The school emphasized preparing students for employment. Burroughs offered courses in domestic science and secretarial skills, but also in unconventional occupations such as shoe repair, barbering, and gardening. Burroughs created a creed of racial self-help through her program of the three Bs: the Bible, the bath, and the broom. The Bible, the bath, and the broom stood for a clean life, a clean body, and a clean house. Burroughs was also one of the first honorary members to be inducted into Delta Sigma Theta
Burroughs believed domestic work should be professionalized and vocational. She trained her students to be become self-sufficient wage earners & expert homemakers. She emphasized the importance of being proud black women to all students, by teaching African-American history and culture through a required course in the Department of Negro History. She became active in the National League of Republican Colored Women, and the National Association of Wage Earners, working to influence legislation related to wages for domestic workers and other positions held by women.
In 1928, the Herbert Hoover administration appointed her as committee chairwomen concerning Negro Housing, for his White House Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership. This was in the early years of the Great Depression.
Burroughs died in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 1961, of natural causes. The funeral was held at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington D. C.
Legacy and honors
- 1907, she received an honorary M.A. from Eckstein Norton University, a historically black college in Cane Spring, Bullitt County, Kentucky. (It merged with Simpson University in 1912.)
- 1934, the school was renamed the national Trades and Professional School for women. The school was inactive for a while during the Great Depression of the 1930s. She reopened it and continued until her death.
- 1976, the school she founded in Washington, DC, was renamed after her.
- Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE, a street in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, DC, is named after her.
- The Burroughs Collection of papers is held by the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division. It consists of 110,000 items (1900–1963); bulk (1928–60), which also contains material concerning her activities with the National Baptist Convention, National League of Republican Colored Women, and National Association of Wage Earners.
- In 1997 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project.
- "Nannie Helen Burroughs papers, 1900-1963 (Library of Congress), Biographical Note (Woman's Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention of the United States of America)". 2001 (last updated 2010 April). Retrieved 2010-10-27.
- "Nannie Lee Burroughs", Discovering Hidden Washington, Library of Congress Live, November 20, 2003.
- "A true Girl-Friend, Nannie Burroughs", African-American Registry
- "Education: African-American Schools, Nannie Helen Burroughs", American Memory: American Women, Library of Congress
- 314 - "White House Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership", September 15, 1931, Herbert Hoover, American Presidency Project
- Runoko Rashidi & Karen A. Johnson, "A brief note on the lives of Anna Julia Cooper & Nannie Helen Burroughs: Profiles of African Women educators", 1998 (revised December 19, 1999), Runoko Rashidi, accessed on December 18, 2007
- "Honorees: 2010 National Women’s History Month". Women's History Month. National Women's History Project. 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Encyclopedia of African -American Culture and History, 2006
- Library of Congress November 20,2003
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