Brown, Hallie Q.
|MISS MARY J. PATTERSON -- 1840--1894|
In these days when our women for the first time in history are taking the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, it is interesting to recall that about sixty years ago our women began to take the collegiate degree of A. B. Miss Mary J. Patterson was, we believe the first colored woman in America to take the degree of Bachelor of Arts. This degree was conferred by Oberlin College in the year 1862.
Miss Patterson's father was one of the far-sighted colored men of North Carolina, who, having obtained his freedom was desirous of securing for his family the benefits of education, and in pursuance of this object, removed to Ohio in the early fifties and settled in the little village of Oberlin, where was located Oberlin College, one of the few educational institutions that then enrolled colored men for Collegiate degrees and the only one that enrolled colored women for the same honors. Here Mr. Patterson lived to see four of his children complete college courses.
Miss Mary Patterson became a teacher and taught many years in the City Schools in Washington, D. C. Later she was the first of our women to be appointed to the Principalship of the Washington High School. Miss Patterson held this position with success until failing health necessitated a change.
Miss Patterson had in the school-room a vivacity of manner and a sympathetic interest that gave her a strong influence over the youth with whom she came in contact and many successful men and women of to-day remember with gratitude her influence on their lives.
Miss Patterson was an educated pioneer, in her own
She passed from this life to a higher in 1894 at Washington, D. C., but her friends think of her as still faring on from height to height in the Great Beyond.