In 1831, Prudence Crandall opened a private academy for the daughters of the white families of Canterbury and neighboring communities. Sarah Harris approached Crandall and was accepted as the first black woman as a student at the Academy. In 1833, Crandall decided to close the school and re-open it as one exclusively for “young Ladies and Little misses of color”.
Between 20 and 25 black women and girls, ranging from ages 9 to 22, attended the Academy. They came from Philadelphia, New York City, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. During the Academy’s 17 months of operation, Crandall and her students endured court trials, harassment, and increasing violence. After an angry mob attacked the school building on the night of September 9, 1834, Crandall decided that she must close the Academy for the safety of her students. Although only open for a brief time, the Canterbury Female Academy was the first private educational opportunity for African-American women in New England.
The events that took place at Prudence Crandall’s Female Academy and the courage shown by both teacher and students remain without equal in the annals of Connecticut history. Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum need your support to ensure that this important site is preserved for future generations.
Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum sponsor and support special events at the Museum, such as lectures, children’s programs, and teas, to support fundraising for the Museum. See a listing of all our Programs and Events.
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P.O. Box 34
Canterbury, CT 06331
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