Sarah Meriwether Nutter

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Sarah H. Meriwether Nutter
Born Sarah Meriwether
(1888-01-01)January 1, 1888
Washington, D.C.
Died April 10, 1950(1950-04-10) (aged 62)
Charleston, West Virginia
Occupation Teacher
Known for founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha
Spouse(s) T. Gillis Nutter
Parent(s) James H. Meriwether
Mary L. Robinson

Sarah H. Meriwether (or "Meriweather") Nutter (January 1, 1888 – May 10, 1950) was one of the original twenty founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the first sorority founded by African-American women. As an educator, she worked in the profession considered most critical to the advancement of African-American citizens.[1]

Nutter was active in creating new chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, to extend the support the sorority could give to African-American women at college and in community life. She was also active in the NAACP in Charleston, West Virginia.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1888 in Washington, D.C. as Sarah H. Meriwether, she was the daughter of James H. Meriwether (1847-?) and Mary L. Robinson (1849-?). Her siblings included: Robert H. Meriwether (1880-?); Agnes L. Meriwether (1883-?); Mary E. Meriwether (1886-?); and Edith E. Meriwether (1891-?).[2] She attended public schools and graduated in 1906 from M Street High School (later renamed Dunbar High School), the academic or college preparatory high school for black students in the capital.[3]

Founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha[edit]

Sarah Meriwether was accepted into Howard University in 1906, the top historically black college in the nation. She was among 1/3 of 1% of African Americans and 5% of whites of eligible age who attended any college at that time.[4]

An honor student, Meriwether majored in English and history.[3] In 1909 Meriwether, together with six other sophomores, was invited to be one of the founders in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.[5] This was the first sorority to be founded by and for African-American women.

Career and later life[edit]

After graduation, Sarah Meriwether did additional study at Miner Teacher's College. By 1915 she worked as an English teacher at Baltimore's Teacher Training School.

Later Meriwether taught at both Howard University and Washington, D.C.'s Dunbar High School, an academic high school that attracted outstanding teachers.[3] Because the District was run as part of the Federal government, African-American teachers in the public schools were part of the civil service and paid on the same scale as whites. The Dunbar High School had very high standards.[6]

In December 1920, Meriwether moved to Charleston, West Virginia, where she met and married T. Gillis Nutter, an attorney and state representative in the West Virginia Legislature.[7] In Charleston, Sarah Nutter became active in civic organizations: she was on the Education and Program Committees of the NAACP, organized the Kanawha County's College Alumni Club, and was a member of Charleston's Book Lovers Club.[3] She was the first African American to join the Virginia Society for Crippled Children.[1]

Nutter arranged for donation to Howard University of the table where Gen. Oliver O. Howard signed the charter that created the college.[1] She established Alpha Kappa Alpha chapters, such as Nu Chapter at West Virginia State University in 1922. Nutter was one of the charter member of Beta Beta Omega in Charleston.[1] Nutter died on May 10, 1950.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d McNealey, Earnestine G. (2006). Pearls of Service: The Legacy of America’s First Black Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Chicago: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  p. 53.
  2. ^ Meriwethers in the 1900 US Census for Washington, D.C.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Sarah Meriwether Nutter". Theta Rho Chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  4. ^ James D. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, p.245.
  5. ^ Parker, Marjorie H. (1999). Past is Prologue: The History of Alpha Kappa Alpha 1908-1999. Chicago: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  p. 12.
  6. ^ Thomas Sowell, "The Education of Minority Children". Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  7. ^ "Thomas G. Nutter," West Virginia Archives and History, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, 2014.

External links[edit]