The month of March is the time for celebrating, honoring, and learning about the important women that have shaped every aspect of life, society and politics. Here are some noteworthy women we highlighted that created history in Wilmington, DE!
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) – Harriet led 300 enslaved men, women and children through Wilmington’s Market Street Underground Railroad byway. Due to Delaware being the northernmost slave state, the Wilmington Underground Railroad was the last station of the Underground Railroad before slaves were able to take steamboats from Wilmington to the surrounding free states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park in the city memorializes Tubman’s accomplishments as well as Thomas Garrett.
Edwina Kruse (1848-1930) – In 1881 in the City of Wilmington, DE, Edwina Kruse started her position as the first Black female principal of Howard High School. Howard High School at the time was the only public school for the Black community in Wilmington. While Kruse was the principal she changed the quality of learning for her students that attended Howard. She provided a curriculum, as well as cultural activities, and recruited talented Black men and women to teach at the school.
Alice Dunbar Nelson (1875-1935) – Alice was an important writer and educator who was mentored by Edwina Kruse and taught at Howard High School in Wilmington, DE. She also taught summer courses at Delaware State University. Alice was also an important activist through her written works. She coedited the “Wilmington Advocate,” a progressive newspaper that focused on Wilmington’s Black Community.
Marian Coffin (1876-1957) – Marian became famous designing landscape concepts for private estates all along the East Coast. Marian grew up with Henry du Pont, who later on asked her to remodel Winterthur for him when he inherited the family home. Marian left her imprint on Delaware by designing the gardens of Winterthur Museum and Gibraltar right here in Wilmington, DE!
Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) – While born and raised in Wilmington, Mary’s childhood home was used as a safe house for enslaved men and women. Mary Ann left the US after teaching for 12 years, but continued to advocate for slavery abolishment in Canada where she founded The Provincial Freeman. This was a weekly newspaper devoted to anti-slavery and presenting the Black community in Canada.