Anna Julia Cooper Collection
The Anna Julia Cooper Collection is a part of Digital Howard, an online repository curated by the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and the Howard University Libraries. The Collection contains personal letters, correspondence and official documents that belonged to Cooper, a Washington, D.C. – based educator at M Street High School. Educators could develop lesson plans to examine her accomplishments with other historical figures. For example, Cooper, born into slavery, became the first African American woman who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Paris – Sorbonne. Her book A Voice from the South, published in 1892, discusses advocacy for women’s suffrage and how education is the cornerstone to African American prosperity.
A highlight of the Collection are articles written and published by Cooper. Some of the articles discuss the ideas and practices of educating women in the nineteenth century. Under the published materials link, an article, The Higher Education of Women, published in April 1891, addresses the debate about allowing women access to educational opportunities. The concern for those who opposed education for women focused on how they would abandon “sewing on buttons and embroidering slippers.” This primary source material could provide teachers with information to develop activities that compare the education goals of modern women and girls with those from more than a century ago.
World History teachers could develop an activity where students compare access to education for women in different parts of the world. For example, this source discusses women’s education in Honduras (https://worldhistorycommons.org/gender-and-health-latin-america-personal-account-education-honduras) and this source (https://worldhistorycommons.org/lse-digital-library) provides a variety of digitized resources about women’s history in Europe and beyond.
Another topic under published materials, College Extension for Working People, advocates for more education opportunities for non-traditional students. This article, published when Cooper served as President of Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C., highlights how education should be an “open door of opportunity” for all Americans. This published work could be used by educators to examine how access to higher education now compares to the early twentieth century. The Cooper Collection offers a variety of primary sources for educators and others who are interested in education practices during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The site could benefit users by providing a brief overview of the materials available and why they are important. Cooper’s life and legacy is not well-known therefore, the website could offer users resources or information from other websites that may provide more context about Cooper. The Collection received funding and support from the Anna Julia Cooper Society; a grant from Penn State University; and a grant from Arena Ifill and DoubleBack Productions.