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Meet Wilhelmina Marguerita Crosson, a Boston teacher who advocated for black history education

February 1, 2018

We’re starting Black History Month with a blog post about Wilhelmina Crosson, a Boston teacher who advocated for black history education.

Wilhelmina Marguerita Crosson, one of Boston’s first African American teachers, created the City’s first remedial reading program and advocated for black history education.

Wilhelmina and her family moved to Boston in 1906. She attended the Hyde School, Girls’ High School, and the Boston Teachers College. After finishing at the Teachers College, she began working for Boston Public Schools. You can see Wilhelmina's name in the graduate list from Girls' High School below.

Graduate List of the Boston Girls’ High School, 1918, Graduation programs, Collection 0400.004, Boston City Archives

In 1920, Wilhelmina taught remedial reading to the children of Italian immigrants in the Hancock District. Her experiences teaching remedial reading classes spurred her to create the City’s first remedial reading program in 1935.

Wilhelmina also believed in the importance of teaching black history in the country’s schools. In 1925, she founded the Aristo Club of Boston. The Aristo Club was an organization of professional black women who promoted the study of black history and provided scholarships to black students. The Aristo Club successfully campaigned for the Boston Public School System to start celebrating, “Negro History Week.”

Below, you can see Wilhelmina's teaching record from the Boston Public School System. Her teaching record documents her education as well as all of her teaching assignments in the Boston Public School System. 

 Wilhelmina Marguerita Crosson’s Teacher Qualification Record, 1946, Teacher Qualification registers and index, Collection 0415.004, Boston City Archives

Wilhelmina continued to teach even after she retired in 1966. In 1968, she founded a training program for Peace Corp volunteers. She also spent much of her retirement volunteering at homeless shelters and acting as a tutor.

As you celebrate Black History Month this year, remember Wilhelmina’s efforts to institute black history education in our public schools!