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Black History Boston: Lucy Miller Mitchell

Today, we are proud to honor the life and contributions of Lucy Miller Mitchell, the architect of Boston's early childhood education!

Lucy Miller Mitchell was born in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1899. She graduated from the Historically Black College and University (HBCU)Talladega College, in 1922, and became a teacher at the Daytona School. The same year, she witnessed a confrontation between Mary McLeod Bethune, the school’s founder, and a local hate group. Not too long after, she married an Attorney named Joseph S. Mitchell, and they moved to Roxbury. She took courses at the Nursery Training School and earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston University in 1935. 

Lucy Miller Mitchell Flyer
Photo Credit: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Starting in 1932, Lucy directed the Nursery School at the Robert Gould Shaw House, where she served for 21 years. She also was the co-founder of Associated Day Care Services of Metropolitan Boston, ultimately serving as the executive director. She supported the creation of a law that was passed by the governor in 1962 to instate a state daycare licensing law after nine years of research and activism. She then worked for the Massachusetts Department of Education to develop affordable training courses for day care workers. 

Major Achievements, Honors, and Awards:
  • Training Peace Corps volunteers to work with children
  • Consulted for the national Head Start Program and helped implement the program in Boston
  • Helped the Snowdens establish Freedom House in Roxbury
  • President of the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Served on the boards of various agencies, including the Boston YWCA (renamed to YW Boston) and United Community Services of Metropolitan Boston
  • Oral history of Lucy’s life was recorded for the Black Women Oral History Project, Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe College (1977)
  • Distinguished Citizen Award, the City of Boston (1979)
  • Honorary degree by Wheelock College (1988)
  • Her home on Waumbeck Street in Roxbury is a stop on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.

Thank you, Lucy Miller Mitchell, for your contributions!!

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