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Miner Teachers College

Washington, DC



Miner Teachers College has been gone for more than half a century; still, it is an internet presence as a pioneer in the education of Blacks.  There is a very good sketch in John Irving E. Scott’s 1949 study Negro Students and Their Colleges.  The University of the District of Columbia  Digital Collections has the seal.


In 1851 Myrtella Miner, an abolitionist from New York state, opened  the Normal School for Colored Girls to train young black women to become teachers.  A $100 gift, allowed her to begin the school with six students; shortly the number grew to 40.  The school was strongly supported by the Society of Friends, Henry Ward Beecher, and his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, who gave $1,000 from the sales of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to support the school.  Despite the objections of Mayor Walter Lenox, who feared that education would make Blacks a “restless population,” and violence from Washington mobs, the school continued up to the start of the Civil War.  Miner and Emily Edmundson, one of her students, became crack pistol shots to protect themselves and the property. 


In poor health, Miner went to California to try to regain her health, but died there in 1864.   Her school was later reopened under the auspices of the Institute for Negro Education. 


In 1879, now named Miner Normal School, it becomes a part of the public school system of Washington D.C.  To limit the number of unemployed teachers, the board set an arbitrary admission ceiling of 26 students annually.  This was removed in 1898 so that enrollment reached 194 by 1910.  Men were admitted, starting in 1877.


In 1927 the program was increased to three years, and then in 1929 an act of Congress created Minor Teachers College with a four-year program leading to a Bachelor’s degree. Negro Students and their Colleges notes that in1949 the school offered degrees in eight fields—Elementary Education, English, French, Spanish, History, Geography, Mathematics and Science.  The student body had the benefit of the usual student organizations for music, drama, and speech.  And despite early faculty objections, eight social fraternities/sororities had chapters on the campus. 


Opinion was that Miner provided an excellent education for its students.  In 1948 Miner had 32 college faculty members.  Of these 12 had earned doctorates and 19 had Masters degrees. 


In 1955 Miners Teachers College merged with its white counterpart, Wilson Teachers College, to form the District of Columbia Teachers College.

Bricks and Mortar

Myrtella Miner began her school in a rented room in a private residence on P Street.  With the help of members of the Society of Friends she acquired property bounded by N, O, 19th and 20th Streets as a site for a new school.  However, she was forced to close the school before a building was started. 


Beginning in 1879 Minor Normal School was housed in the Charles Sumner Buildings.  In 1913 it reached its final home at 2565 Georgia Avenue in NW Washington.  The huge Georgian style building was completed in 1914.  It housed Miner Normal School 1913-1929, Miner Teachers College (1929-1954), and part of District of Columbia Teachers College 1955-1977).  Today the building is home to the Teacher Education Department of Howard University.








Team name: Raiders

School Colors: Blue and Gold


The HBCU digital website notes that intercollegiate athletics at Miner Teachers College were limited throughout its history.  Programs suffered from low numbers of male students, limited finances, and a lack of tradition.  I have been unable to find any record of athletics before 1933.  Miner teams won 26 of 68 games with five ties.


Before his death in World War II, Professor Harold D. Martin directed health and physical education programs at Miner.  His 1934 football posted a 7-1 record.  One third of the members of his 1936 team were honor students.


Football and basketball teams competed against other HBCU teams in the Middle Atlantic area. Cheyney College was a yearly opponent.  Morgan, Delaware State, Norfolk State, Howard, and Elizabeth City frequently appeared on the schedule. 





1935 Miner football team Image from Joseph Owen Curtis Photograph Collection, DC Public Library Special Collections. 

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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