Harriet Beecher Stowe School, named after Harriet Beecher Stowe, the famous Cincinnati
abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was established
in 1914 by Jennie D.
Porter, who was also its first principal. The school was designed
to give African American children the same educational experiences
that white children received. Though never officially designated as
a school for African Americans, it served as a beacon to the growing
number of African American families emigrating from the South. This
emigration swelled enrollment and in its first eight years, Stowe’s
student population more than tripled. In 1914, there were 350 students
and by 1922 there were 1300 students at Stowe.
Porter founded the school on the belief that African American students
were just as intelligent as white students. She believed that in
order to gain their full potential, the students would have to be
taught in segregated schools where they could develop themselves
away from the prejudice of white students and could be taught by
African American teachers. Porter made it a priority to bring in
several prominent African Americans, including Paul Robeson, Langston
Hughes, George W. Carver and Marian Anderson, to give the children
positive role models to emulate. In addition to a strong emphasis
on academics, there were also vocational and agricultural programs.
Porter’s belief in segregated schools, however, created much
controversy in the African American community and garnered the school
many critics. Many of them, including Wendell
P. Dabney, editor of the Union newspaper, believed
that encouraging segregated schools would reinforce and expand the
practice of segregation throughout other aspects of society.
Despite these misgivings about the school, it thrived and many prominent
citizens attended Stowe, among them Theodore
Berry, the first African American mayor of Cincinnati, and DeHart
Hubbard, the first African American to win a gold medal in the
Olympics. The school closed in 1962, but the Stowe building continued
to serve the community
over the years as an adult education center, a school for
the mentally handicapped, an office building, and as its present incarnation
as a local television station.
To learn more about Harriet Beecher Stowe School, consult
the following resources:
Davis Porter: A Leader of Black Education in Cincinnati
By Lesley Robinson in Perspectives in History, Vol. 4,
No. 1, Fall 1988, pages 13‑18
General 905 P467
In this article, Lesley Robinson recounts Porter's struggle to achieve
her own education and to educate African American children at Stowe
School. View catalog record
Pioneers: Black Women at the University of Cincinnati
By Delores Thompson
and Lyle Koehler in Queen City Heritage, Vol. 43,
No. 4, Winter 1985, pages 21‑28.
General f906 H673B
This article discusses how African American women worked to overcome
barriers at the University of Cincinnati from 1897 to 1940. It highlights
the experiences of Jennie Porter, Vera Clement, Helen Elsie Austin
and Lucy Orintha Oxley. View article (PDF)
Educational Development of Blacks in Cincinnati from 1800 to the Present
By Walter McKinley Nicholes
Thesis 370.193 N61 T
Stowe School is placed in the larger context of the Cincinnati Public
Schools in this 1977 thesis by Walter Nicholes. View catalog recordRequest slip
Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
Robinson, Lesley. "Jennie
Davis Porter: A Leader of Black Education in Cincinnati,"
Perspectives in History. Vol. 14, No. 1., Fall 1988, pages
13‑18. Cincinnati History Library and Archives. Cincinnati Museum
Thompson, Delores and Lyle Koehler. "Educated
Pioneers: Black Women at the University of Cincinnati," Queen
City Heritage. Vol. 43, No. 4., Winter 1985, pages 21‑28, General f906 H673B,
Cincinnati History Library and Archives. Cincinnati Museum Center.
Merkel, Jayne. "Unused Schools Given a Second
Term," Cincinnati Enquirer, September 10, 1983, page
Roberson, Renee. "Cincinnati's History Remembered,"
Cincinnati Herald, February 19, 2000, page 2, Supplemental.
Webb, Bob. "Not Diploma, But Job....Students
Study," Cincinnati Enquirer, April, 25, 1965, page 6A.
"Students at Stowe School Show How They Learn,"
Cincinnati Enquirer, November 21, 1963, page 28.