Jennie Porter

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Jennie Davis Porter
Born1879 (1879)
DiedJuly 3, 1936(1936-07-03) (aged 56–57)
EducationB.A., M.A., PhD., University of Cincinnati
OccupationActivist, educator
Known forFirst black individual to receive a PhD from the University of Cincinnati
HonorsOhio Women's Hall of Fame (1989)

Jennie Davis Porter (1879 – July 3, 1936) was an African-American educator. She was the first black individual to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati and become the first black female public school principal in Cincinnati. In 1989, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Porter was born in Cincinnati to former slave William A. Porter and schoolteacher Edlinda Davis Porter.[1] She attended the city’s integrated schools, and graduated from Hughes High School.[2]


She began her educating career as a kindergarten teacher at the Douglass School in Walnut Hills.[3] While continuing her teaching career, Porter coordinated with Annie Laws to establish the first all-black kindergarten in response to the unprecedented flood of uneducated Black children who moved to escape slavery.[1][4] This led to the establishment of the first all-black kindergarten in 1911, paid for by Laws.[5] As a result of a major flood in 1913, Porter discovered that 147 black children were unable to attend school. She obtained permission to open a summer school to educate these children which later developed into the Harriet Beecher Stowe School in 1914.[5] Porter became the first African American woman to serve as principal in the city.[2] The school had a total of twenty-eight classrooms, including a kindergarten, two science rooms, two art rooms, a catering department, a laundry room, a sewing room, a print shop, a house construction room, a cabinet-making shop, a wood-working shop, a library, a swimming pool, two shower rooms, a doctor's office, a pre-natal clinic, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and an auditorium.[5]

However, she was often critiqued as being a segregationist for lobbying for segregation in schools. The NAACP local president Wendell Dabney dubbed Porter “Jubilee Jenny” for what he perceived to be her willingness to accept the prejudices facing black populations.[1][6] As well, on December 9, 1919, petitions were presented at the Board of Education meetings to protest the Stowe School.[5] As a result, Porter refused to let teachers at her school join the NAACP.[3] Despite the criticism she received, Harriet Beecher Stowe School grew from an enrollment of 350 students to 1300 in 1922.[7]

In 1918, Porter enrolled in the University of Cincinnati and subsequently became the first black person to receive a Ph.D. from the school.[8] At that time, the only available college Black individuals could enrol in was the College of Education. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1924, Porter petitioned the college to create a separate degree, the Bachelor of Education degree, which required in-the-field training.[4] Her PhD dissertation was titled "Problem of negro education in northern and border cities."[9]

Porter died on July 3, 1936.[5]


In 1953, a new junior high school named after Porter was created to relieve Harriet Beecher Stowe School from overcrowding.[10]

In 1989, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Coleman, Brett (November 15, 2015). "Meet 1st African-American to earn UC doctorate". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "WOMEN WEDNESDAY: JENNIE PORTER". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Reflections on Leadership". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Delores Thompson; Lyle Koehler (Winter 1985). "Educated Pioneers: Black Women at the University of Cincinnati, 1897-1940" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Lesley Robinson (1988). "Jennie Davis Porter: A Leader of Black Education in Cincinnati" (PDF). Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Kate Rousmaniere (2013). Principal's Office: A Social History of the American School Principal. SUNY Press. p. 73. ISBN 9781438448251. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  7. ^ "Jennie D. Porter". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Jennie Davis Porter". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  9. ^ Jacqueline Kern (September 10, 2018). "The ascent across two centuries". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  10. ^ Kirtley, Florence (December 8, 1963). "School Honors Negro Educator". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "Jennie Porter". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2019.