Timeline for the Early History of Spelman College
by Ed Hullender


1862- Friendship Baptist Church established in Atlanta, led by Reverend Frank Quarles.


March 29, 1881- Ms. Sophia B. Packard and Miss Harriet E. Giles journey south in search of a likely location for the teaching they would like to do-educating African American women in the first generation after the Civil War


Early April, 1881- Packard and Giles meet the Reverend Frank Quarles, a leading Baptist minister in the African American community, who offers his church as a site for a school

April 11, 1881
- Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary opens in the basement of Friendship Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. The initial class has eleven pupils.


Later in 1881- Reverend Quarles dies

Summer 1882- Packard and Giles journey north to seek financial support for their work from interested philanthropists

February 1883- Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary moves from the Friendship Baptist Church to its current neighborhood, starting out there in a converted army barracks purchased by the American Baptist Home Mission Society

Autumn 1883- Slater Fund gives money to support an industrial education department, which taught job skills such as cooking, sewing, dress-cutting, and housework

1886- Rockefeller Hall-a mixed-use facility of classrooms, a chapel, and dormitory space-opens after a generous donation from John D. Rockefeller covers the cost of this new building

1884- Model Elementary School opens

1886-67- Spelman Messenger, the seminary's newsletter, begins publishing; over 600 students are enrolled; nursing department is founded


November 1882- Nora Gordon, a daughter of former slaves from Columbus, Georgia, enters Spelman Seminary (Gordon would become Spelman's first missionary to Africa in 1889.)

Spring 1887- Clara Howard graduates from Spelman and becomes a teacher in the Atlanta public schools

April 1890- Clara Howard becomes a missionary to the Congo

June 21, 1891- Miss Packard dies in Washington, D.C.

Fall 1891- The missionary training department of Spelman opens

1892- Spelman's normal (teacher training) school opens

- Over 800 students are enrolled at Spelman

1893- Giles Hall, another major classroom building, is funded and constructed via another Rockefeller donation

1909- Miss Giles dies


Click Here for additional notes on the development of this material


Creating a New Context for Studying African Americans' Post-Civil War Education
by Sarah Robbins

Father Quarles and Aunt Ruth: Leaders for Spelman and All of Georgia
by Deborah Mitchell

Early Graduates: Writers and Community Leaders
Transcriptions from the Spelman Messenger

Reflections on Writing (from) an Oral History
by Deborah Mitchell

Doing Archival Research
by Ed Hullender


by the "Educating for Citizenship" Team



Content Design/Management: Traci Blanchard and Marty Lamers


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