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Haydee B. Campbell: Expanding Education for Black Children and Opportunities for Black Women

  • Author(s): Williams, Rachel E;
  • Whitebook, Marcy
  • et al.
Abstract

In the late 1800s, the groundbreaking yet segregated public kindergartens of St. Louis, Missouri, included separate leadership and teacher training for Black women, with Haydee B. Campbell as the Superintendent of Black Kindergartens in St. Louis. While the history of early education in the city often focuses on well-known White leaders like Susan Blow and William Torrey Harris, the contributions of Black women have been erased and ignored for too long. By turning the spotlight on Haydee B. Campbell, we make visible not only Black women’s leadership as teachers, trainers, and pedagogical leaders, but the contributions of Black women’s clubs to the kindergarten movement in which Campbell worked as the supervisor of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC) Kindergarten Department. Centering Campbell provides a different view of history, where a win for public kindergartens meant incorporation into racially segregated school systems, often with disparate access by race (fewer Black kindergartens than White), disparate funding (less funding allocated to Black kindergartens), and segregated training schools for Black teachers (fewer locations where Black women could be trained).

One consequence of devaluing Black women’s contribution to the kindergarten movement is their scant presence in the archives. We are only beginning our work of searching for the historical “dots” we hope to connect into a more fully developed understanding of the kindergarten movement from marginalized perspectives. This profile pulls together the fragmentary information we have on Haydee B. Campbell’s career in the context of a city considered “the sun of our kindergarten system,” her contributions to the kindergarten movement, and her role within the NACWC’s national efforts to establish kindergartens for Black children.

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