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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sedalia in Guilford County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The Origins of Palmer Memorial Institute

 
 
The Origins of Palmer Memorial Institute Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Jordan, January 1, 2011
1. The Origins of Palmer Memorial Institute Marker
Inscription. In 1846, Christian abolitionists established the American Missionary Association (AMA). After the Civil War, the AMA provided schools for African Americans in the South and founded Bethany Institute here in 1870. Few educational opportunities existed for anyone, especially the poor or those living in rural areas. African Americans, mostly rural and poor, had little hope of receiving even a basic education except through these types of schools.

Many students walked miles to Bethany Institute and missed classes frequently due to winter weather. Miss Hawkins solved this problem with the help of students and parents by converting an abandoned blacksmith’s shop across the highway from the church into a classroom and girls’ sleeping quarters. She obtained an old house about a quarter of a mile away for the boys. Because the house was in better condition, she moved the girls there as well. Girls lived upstairs and the boys downstairs. She was a strict disciplinarian of high moral character, and she supervised all activities to ensure proper conduct.

The school and church were both well-attended when 18-year-old Charlotte Hawkins arrived in October 1901. Pupils attended classes in the church, sitting on long benches which converted to pews on Sundays. Classes occurred only during the winter for four or five months. The school
The Origins of Palmer Memorial Institute Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Jordan, January 1, 2011
2. The Origins of Palmer Memorial Institute Marker
The marker is to the left of the sidewalk.
included higher-level classes for older students training to be teachers and ministers. Miss Hawkins taught the older students while another teacher instructed the elementary grades.

Despite the improvements, the AMA withdrew its limited financial support of Bethany Institute in 1902. Inspired by the community’s pleas to maintain a local school and with a strong sense of mission and faith in God, young Charlotte courageously reopened the school on her own in the fall of 1902. It was later named the Palmer Memorial Institute in honor of her friend and mentor, noted New England educator Alice Freeman Palmer.

Bethany Church remains an active congregation today and is located across the highway from the parking lot.

 
Erected by Division of State Historic Sites and Properties.
 
Location. 36° 4.088′ N, 79° 37.487′ W. Marker is in Sedalia, North Carolina, in Guilford County. Marker is on US Highway 70, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6136 Burlington Road, Sedalia NC 27342, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum (here, next to this marker); Carrie M. Stone Cottage 1948 (within shouting distance
Charlotte Hawkins at Bethany image. Click for full size.
By Paul Jordan, January 1, 2011
3. Charlotte Hawkins at Bethany
with community church leaders in the early 1900s. She is seated, third from the right.
of this marker); Charles W. Eliot Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Canary Cottage (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Meditation Altar (about 400 feet away); Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, 1883 - 1961 (about 500 feet away); In Memory of Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Sedalia.
 
Also see . . .  Charlotte Hawkins Brown Historic Site. (Submitted on April 16, 2011, by Paul Jordan of Burlington, N. C., U. S. A..)
 
Categories. African AmericansEducation
 
Charlotte Hawkins image. Click for full size.
By Paul Jordan, January 1, 2011
4. Charlotte Hawkins
Charlotte Hawkins (center, back row) with Palmer Memorial Institute's teachers, c. 1905. As her school grew, she sought qualified teachers with college degrees and took them along on fund-raising trips.
The Boy's Dormitory image. Click for full size.
By Paul Jordan, January 1, 2011
5. The Boy's Dormitory
This building eventually housed 40 students and Charlotte Hawkins. The girls lived upstairs and the boys downstairs.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Paul Jordan of Burlington, N. C., U. S. A.. This page has been viewed 428 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Paul Jordan of Burlington, N. C., U. S. A.. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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