Emily Howland

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Emily Howland
Emily Howland from American Women, 1897.jpg
Portrait of Emily Howland from American Women
Born (1827-11-20)November 20, 1827
Sherwood, New York
Died June 29, 1929(1929-06-29) (aged 101)

Emily Howland (November 20, 1827 – June 29, 1929) was a philanthropist and educator. Especially known for her activities and interest in the education of African-Americans, she was also a strong supporter of women's rights and the temperance movement. Howland personally financed the education of many black students and contributed to institutions such as the Tuskegee Institute.[1]


Emily Howland was born at Sherwood, Cayuga County, New York[2], on November 20, 1827[2]. She was the daughter of Slocum and Hannah Tallcot Howland, who were prominent in the Society of Friends[2]. She was educated in small private schools in the community, and the Margaret Robinson School, a Friends school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[3].


An active abolitionist, Howland taught at Normal School for Colored Girls in Washington, D.C. from 1857 to 1859. During the Civil War she worked at the contraband refugee settlement of Camp Todd in Arlington, Virginia, teaching freed slaves to read and write as well as administering to the sick during a smallpox outbreak and ultimately serving as director of the camp during 1864-1866.[3]

Beginning in 1867, she started a community for freed people in Heathsville, Northumberland County, Virginia, called Arcadia, on 400 acres purchased by her father, including a school for the education of children of freed slaves, the Howland Chapel School.[4][5] She continued to maintain an active interest in African-American education, donating money and materials as well as visiting and corresponding with administrators at many schools. [5]

Returning to Sherwood NY after her father's death in 1881, she ran the Sherwood Select School until 1926 when it became a public school when it was renamed the Emily Howland Elementary School by the state of New York.[5]

Howland became one of the first female directors of a national bank in the United States, at the Aurora National Bank in Aurora, New York in 1890[6], where she served up to her death, at age 101.

Howland was also active in women's suffrage, peace, and temperance movements and was a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

In 1926 she received and honorary Litt.D. degree from the University at Albeany, SUNY, the first woman to have this honor conferred upon her from this institution. Her papers are held by several universities, including: Cornell University[7], Haverford College[3], and Swarthmore College[8].

She was also the author of an historical sketch of early Quaker history in Cayuga County, NY: Historical Sketch of Friends in Cayuga County.[9]


  1. ^ Locke, Mamie E. (February 2000). "Emily Howland". American National Biography Online. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Obituaries". The Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association. 10: 346–348. October 1929. 
  3. ^ a b c "Finding Aid for the EMILY HOWLAND PAPERS,1926-1975 (Haverford College Library Special Collections)". Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  4. ^ Jeffrey M. O'Dell and Carolyn E. Jett (June 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Howland Chapel School" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 
  5. ^ a b c "United States Department of the Interior OMB No. 1024-0018, National Park Service. NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES.CONTINUATION SHEET. Section 8: Significance. (Property Sherwood Equal Rights Historic District. Location Cayuga County, New York)" (PDF). Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  6. ^ "Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life". Moulton, 1893. Retrieved March 10, 2018.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "Emily Howland Papers,1797-1938. Collection No.2681 (Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library)". Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  8. ^ "An Inventory of the Emily Howland Family Papers, 1763-1929 (Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College)". Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  9. ^ Judith Colucci Breault (1981). The Odyssey of a Humanitarian: Emily Howland, 1827-1929. Ayer Publishing. ISBN 0-405-14076-2.