Martha Bailey Briggs (biographical essay)

Martha Bailey Briggs

Martha Bailey Briggs, (21 Mar. 1838 to 28 Mar. 1889) educator and public school administrator, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the only child of Fannie Bassett of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and John Briggs of Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Believed to be the first African American woman to graduate from New Bedford High School, Briggs went on to create and develop Normal schools and departments (precursors to modern-day teacher’s college or schools of education) in the greater Washington DC area, graduating over eighty educators (more than any teacher trainer in her time) and developing what would eventually become Howard University’s Graduate School of Education.

For more information, please see the full article in of the African American National Biography volume 1 print edition, or online in the electronic edition. Citation as follows:

Barnes, S.M. 2008 “Martha Bailey Briggs,” in African American National Biography, Oxford University Press, New York.

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