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  • "Woman's Work":Race, Foreign Missions, and Respectability in the National Training School for Women and Girls

Nannie Helen Burroughs's life-long stewardship of the National Training School for Women and Girls reveals how African American women's politics occupied multiple spheres—religious, international, educational, and domestic—simultaneously. Existing scholarship has under analyzed the relational and transnational nature of such politics as embodied by the school and reflected in her students' work abroad. Scholarly documentation of foreign mission work in the Woman's Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention-USA and its rhetoric on black women and respectability has not been directly tied to the training school's global curriculum and activities, which included Burroughs's active participation in the Baptist World Alliance. As an educator, Burroughs fused Victorian gender norms, Pan-Africanism, feminist ideology, and Christian evangelism to position African and African American women as integral to the propagation of the Baptist faith and the goal of race/gender advancement.

In 1905, 30-year-old Nannie Helen Burroughs attained international acclaim for speeches she gave at the inaugural meeting of the Baptist World Congress in London. Burroughs, secretary of the Woman's Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention USA (NBC-USA), regaled spectators with an oratory—infused with wit and pathos—that impressed the need not only to provide increased mission support for "my brethren" in Africa but also to recognize the signal place of black women in stewarding Christianity in foreign lands. Noting that the salvation of the race depended upon the "highest development of womanhood," Burroughs, to applause, acknowledged that "the women of my own race are taking up the Cross and are making wonderful sacrifices to give the Gospel not only to those within their own borders, but also to their sisters who are bowing down to the gods of wood and stone in foreign lands, and who sorely need our help."1 Four years later, Burroughs opened the Christian-based National Training School for Women and Girls (NTS) in the District of Columbia.

While scholarship has addressed the varied social reform efforts of the race activist and educator, it has failed to examine the links between Burroughs's international work and that of the training school. Scholars have documented foreign mission work among African American women [End Page 37] in the NBC-USA's Woman's Convention, but they have not associated this activity and discourse on black women and respectability with the NTS's specific curriculum and operations, which were influenced by Burroughs's participation in the sparsely documented Baptist World Congress (later Alliance).2 The school's educational philosophy—domestic and leadership skills, character traits, and its effect on African American pupils—is amply treated in the historiography. Indeed, confronted with a racially defined middle-class status that restricted them occupationally and legally, black women invoked what the historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham termed a "politics of respectability," a program of Christian moralism designed to provide a counterdiscourse to institutionalized racism in the United States.3 Exhibition of "morals and manners" by African Americans, while not completely effective at combating race discrimination, served to debunk racist portrayals of a childlike, immoral race that lacked virtue and helped forge partnerships with sympathetic whites.

Yet one of the NTS's primary purposes, as stated in its charter, was to train "women for missionary work in this and other lands."4 The school's very founding thus lay grounded in an internationalist mentality. Preoccupation with the domestic implications of the discourse of respectability and its emphasis on character development has resulted in scholars stressing certain aspects of the school's pedagogy at the expense of its other educational programs and activities. The lack of scholarly emphasis on the international aspects of Burroughs's pedagogy for black girls and women is also perhaps due to her belonging to what the African American and African Diaspora Studies professor Audrey McCluskey called the "often forgotten subset" of clubwomen.5

This article seeks to redress the lacuna in the literature, in part, by demonstrating how formative elements in Burroughs's life, including the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), informed the mission, curriculum, and student body makeup of the school. In this respect, the NTS illuminates the ways in which African American women's politics operated simultaneously within an international, educational, religious, and domestic framework. In stressing these connections, this article builds upon the existing scholarship on African American women school founders and black female international activists. The structure and function of the NTS relied upon a legacy of prominent, southern-born African American female school founders—Lucy Laney, Mary McCleod Bethune, and Charlotte Hawkins Brown—who collectively sought to undo race, gender, and sex oppression by stressing self-sufficiency, Christian morality, and black female leadership. Unlike these three black women school founders, Burroughs operated the school outside the Deep and Upper South and focused on the training of African and African American female foreign missionaries. Moreover, although [End Page 38] such black women's colleges as Spelman and Benedict trained African students as missionaries and teachers under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, the NTS's origins and sustainability lay not in white northern philanthropy but in contributions by African Americans and revenue-generating projects within the school. The relative freedom from white oversight aided Burroughs in crafting a curriculum. Literature on black female school founders and black missionary training schools has also not specifically addressed what role, if any, a global curricula played in these institutions' foreign missions pedagogy.6

Scholars have increasingly documented how African American women's active participation in international organizations sought to synthesize the causes of racial justice not just locally but throughout the world. Not unlike the International Council of Women of the Darker Races (ICWDR) and other global women's groups, Burroughs utilized the African diaspora to inform students of the relationship between race problems in the United States and race and ethnic oppression in foreign countries. Absent from these accounts, however, are detailed assessments of the role that black female educational institutions played in defining and shaping world affairs through a gender and racial lens.7

This article expands historical inquiry into African American women's education and politics by marrying subjects that are traditionally treated separately: black women's international activism, foreign missions, and the pedagogical practices of African American women educators. It moreover calls attention to the particular transnational and gendered discourses present among black female school founders.

As principal, Burroughs understood the NTS as a modular structure that could be arranged to satisfy domestic and communal-based objectives—a commercial laundry, community library, and co-op store employing black residents—but also internationalist goals. As a transnational entity, the NTS provided an infrastructure supportive of black women's global mission work and the recruitment and engagement of African female students. The school educated African and African American students in their worldly and Christian responsibilities, resulting in graduates who pursued missionary work in Africa. Through the NTS, Burroughs aimed to inscribe upon an international landscape a portrait of Christian black womanhood that saw the convergence of two seemingly polar opposites: upholding traditional tenets of gendered behavior and civilizing work on the one hand, while inverting such ideas on the other. Burroughs reconciled these objectives by invoking a "Victorian-feminist" consciousness wherein Victorian-inspired gender norms merged, rather than collided, with feminist ideology. Discourse and instruction aimed at teaching homemaking and domestic servant skills to African and African American women satisfied societal expectations [End Page 39] that consigned "respectable" women to the domestic sphere. At the same time, Burroughs challenged hegemonic colonial notions of "civilization" by instilling in her students values that stressed race liberation and female independence. In this regard, her politics of respectability allowed her to advocate that black women undertake nontraditional pursuits without compromising their status as virtuous, moral beings.

Born in 1875, Burroughs's mother relocated her from Virginia to the District of Columbia for better educational opportunities. Graduating with honors from the esteemed M Street "colored" high school, she spent five decades establishing and participating in numerous groups meant to uplift African and African American men and women. Besides the NBC-USA and NTS, Burroughs worked in the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National League of Republican Colored Women, and the ICWDR, the first autonomous international organization among African American women. She maintained correspondence with notable black civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., Carter G. Woodson, and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Burroughs remained principal of the NTS, later renamed the National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls, until her death in 1961.8

Burroughs's London trip in 1905 was underwritten by the NBC-USA's Woman's Convention. Founded in 1900, the Woman's Convention was formed by black Baptist churchwomen who sought an autonomous place for their religious activities. At the National Baptist Convention meeting in Richmond, Virginia, that year, Burroughs delivered the speech "How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping," which argued for the equal participation of women in missionary work. Also in 1900, Burroughs began petitioning for an all-black school for women and girls.9

The National Training School

After years of debate about the practicality of locating a black women's educational institution in DC, the Woman's Convention, having raised $6,000 largely from African Americans, purchased in 1907 a six-acre site equipped with a farmhouse in Lincoln Heights.10 The school, which commenced operations on October 19, 1909, reportedly housed eight staff members and seven students initially.11

Burroughs's work towards educational uplift and self-determination among black women took place amidst an upwardly mobile and politically conscious African American population in the District of Columbia. As the "center of black America," Washington had amassed the largest number of urban blacks since the Civil War.12 Its black schools and colleges—including [End Page 40] Howard University—along with black churches; fraternal and charitable groups; and women's, literary, and other social clubs had national reputations. Washington's NAACP branch successfully defeated congressional legislation that would have segregated street cars, parks, pools, and other public spaces; protested against the showing of the racist 1915 film Birth of a Nation; and fought for equal treatment of black soldiers in WWI.13

While not completely immune to racial discrimination as experienced by their Deep South counterparts, the city's black residents nonetheless encountered fewer instances of legally mandated segregation. After Reconstruction, black public schools in DC were publicly funded, with black Washingtonians invested in education matters in ways similar to those who invested in other urban areas throughout Progressive-Era America. African Americans in Washington developed kindergartens and junior high schools, established teacher training programs, and incorporated curricular reforms. The M Street School (later Dunbar) became one of the best public high schools in the country, with its teachers and administrators holding bachelor's degrees from Howard or private northern colleges while others possessed advanced degrees. Graduates from Dunbar and the Armstrong Training School worked as public school teachers or sought employment as federal clerks or stenographers.14

Offering vocational and academic courses, including domestic science, English, music, Latin, mathematics, and a mandated "Negro History" course, the NTS, not unlike schools founded by Laney, Bethune, and Brown, provided a broad-based, hybrid pedagogy that fused classical and industrial education for students. Mindful of her mother Jennie's work as a cook, however, Burroughs emphasized the training of domestic servants due to its low status in society and the stress placed on black women as household servants. By "professionalizing" domestic work, she sought to combat racist characterizations of black women as incompetent, lazy, and immoral. Burroughs thus fashioned her Christian school on the "three Bs" (Bible, bath, and broom), which reflected her religious mooring and the import of embodying lessons of a clean life, clean body, and clean home to pupils.

Despite the pragmatism of a practical education that would produce economically self-sufficient black women and place them in a realm beyond moral reproach, NTS's students acknowledged its limitations. They also pursued vocational coursework—sewing, business classes, printing—that might release them from a career in domestic service. Critics of industrial education associated such "dignity of labor" pedagogy with the lowest forms of menial labor, which in a racially hierarchical society, presupposed blacks' socioeconomic subordination in the United States.15 When designing their curriculum, many pupils recalled relatives who had labored as domestic or agricultural workers and the servile and dependent identity [End Page 41] that labor enforced. Between 1918 and 1931, 51 percent of students at the NTS majored in sewing, 29 percent in business, and 15 percent in domestic science.16

Burroughs's interventions in the lives of her African American students taught them to be self-reliant and contribute to the race's advancement through their moral and civic example. At the same time, the school eclipsed purely nationalistic goals as it sought to craft a respectable black womanhood abroad.

Situated in the nation's capital, the school drew not just black migrants from the South to its doors but also foreign students. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, white and black missionaries supported sending African youth to denominational institutions of higher learning in Europe and the United States so that they could establish missions back home. Missions in Africa were established in the nineteenth century by white American and European Protestant churches, and black missionaries were appointed to the continent.17 Many African students enrolled in such black colleges as Livingstone, Spelman College, Hampton Institute, Benedict College, Lincoln University, and the NTS and returned to South Africa, Liberia, and Nigeria, among other nations, to become missionaries, teachers, and ministers.18

Between 1909 and 1925, the NBC-USA's Woman's Auxiliary under-wrote expenses for the education of African students in the United States. Burroughs had taken "charge" of twenty-three foreign female students by 1940.19 At the NTS, missionary training encompassed three years of course-work in "church, city, home and foreign missions." The program accepted young women over the age of eighteen who felt called by God to persist in Christian work either at home or in a foreign country. Applicants were cautioned that they should be equipped with "sound health and strength enough for the labor and strain of her calling."20 Courses of study included biblical theology, the Old and New Testament, nursing and first aid, sociology, elocution, and the domestic arts—basketry, caning, and dressmaking. Such curriculum fused the religious conversion of foreign peoples with the spread of housekeeping skills by evangelical women, who, as part of the missionary movement, equated foreign women's domestic acumen with their worthiness as citizens. This conflation of home and foreign mission work within the context of the NTS thus served complementary purposes as such work addressed the dual uplift of African and African American female virtue and the potential of increased economic opportunity for both groups.21

Burroughs's vision of the NTS and foreign mission work was shaped, in part, by her involvement in the NBC-USA and subsequent participation in the Baptist World Alliance, which became an arena for black women's justifications of assistance for colored people around the world. It also [End Page 42] was where black and white women supporters of missionary work found organizational unity and sought to educate each other about the world's Christian women.

The Baptist World Alliance

If Burroughs betrayed any nervousness that warm July day when speaking before the 1905 congress, it only bared itself at the start of her speech. She offered several justifications for her remarks about women and missionary activity, culminating with the observation that women, not unlike Simon, willingly "took up the Cross and gave herself to the carrying of the message of the Gospel to Heathen lands."22 She then revealed to congregants the imprint that women missionaries had placed on the world's terrain. Burroughs stated that in China, India, and other countries these women were buried, and she affirmed that they would bury "many more women who have been willing to go forth and spend and be spent for the Saviour who poured out His blood for them."23

Such rhetoric reflected the NTS's pedagogy, which emphasized to students the importance of industry and service at home and abroad. In the context of the Baptist World Congress, Burroughs saw service as plumbing foreign lands for those famished for both Christian charity and the opportunity to be converted into industrious, respectable, and self-sufficient citizens. While European imperialist sentiment held that Africa needed "civilization" and Christianity, Burroughs believed European intervention could benefit Africans if their welfare superseded any goals of exploitation. As Burroughs concluded, "And so for darkest Africa, for hungry and starving Africa, for her sons and daughters, who are my brethren and sisters, for these I ask you to 'cut the slice a little thicker.'"24

Burroughs's address coincided with a growing desire among the world's leading male Baptists to gather the faithful together. Dr. John Newton Prestridge of Louisville, Kentucky, approached the Rev. John Howard Shakespeare of England who approved the idea. Prestridge then solicited opinions from Baptists in other parts of the world and, having published the remarks in his newspaper, determined that the meeting would attract "universal acceptance." A resolution approved by the Baptist Union of Great Britain in Bristol in 1904 had the congress formally convening next July in London's Exeter Hall.25 At the congress, a Baptist World Alliance formed that would extend to every part of the world. Under the alliance, a general meeting or "congress" would be held every five years. The alliance would demonstrate the extent to which, in Congress Secretary Shakespeare's words, "there is now in existence, and to be reckoned with, a Baptist world consciousness."26 [End Page 43]

Burroughs became acquainted with the concept of international service and cooperation among Baptists through her employment under Lewis Garnett Jordan, a historian of black Baptists and corresponding secretary of the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) of the NBC-USA. Before moving to Washington, DC, in 1909 to head the NTS, Burroughs worked for several years in Louisville as FMB bookkeeper and secretary. Jordan gave her an office in the location of his bi-monthly Mission Herald.27 Burroughs also invested her time in an industrial training school for black women.28

Burroughs learned of developments in the foreign missions field through Jordan's annual reports to the National Baptist Convention and via the Mission Herald. That publication promoted NBC's foreign mission agenda primarily in western and southern Africa. In his Up the Ladder in Foreign Missions, Jordan stressed the paper's importance, saying that otherwise "no history of missions records impartially and fully the deeds of Negroes who have gone to heathen lands and delivered, amid persecution and thrilling circumstances, the Story of the Cross."29

Along with Woman Convention President Sarah Layten, Burroughs helped appoint Emma Delaney, a Spelman seminary graduate and the first unmarried woman commissioned by the FMB, to its mission in Nyasaland. The Mission Herald importantly exposed Burroughs to Pan-African thought and activity in addition to missionary work. Delaney, the Rev. John Chilembwe of Africa, and the Rev. Landon Cheek, a black Baptist minister from Mississippi, supported community building that cut across African ethnicity and African American nationality. Although Bible study and Christian conversion dominated mission goals, missionary reports in the Mission Herald also documented the formation of an interethnic partnership designed to protect Africans from the consequences of multiple European powers seeking control of the British protectorate. The interethnic cooperative took in hundreds of displaced African families, feeding them, tending to sick children, and providing African men with jobs to ameliorate colonial taxes and military conscription.30

Burroughs's engagement with Pan-Africanism continued during the interwar years. World War I functioned as a dialogic space wherein African American soldiers, African soldiers, and French colonial laborers in North and West Africa interacted, contributing to a growing Pan-Africanist consciousness. While overseeing the NTS, Burroughs wrote to Addie Hunton, a vice president and field secretary of the NAACP and president of the ICWDR, requesting that the third Pan-African Congress in London and Lisbon (1923) have representation from the National Association of Colored Women. In March 1929, Burroughs encouraged race leader and Pan-Africanist W. E. B. Du Bois to "try to interest twenty-five or thirty of our women in making the trip [to the planned fifth Pan-African Congress in North Africa] [End Page 44] in 1931."31 Such correspondence suggested Burroughs's endorsement of the Pan-African movement and its call for unity—political, economic, and cultural—among those of African descent. Burroughs's partnership with Jordan, at a time in which her work in Louisville encompassed both foreign missions and women's industrial education, reinforced her commitment to religious activism overseas while forwarding the goal of black female self-sufficiency and institution building among women.

Burroughs was one of two women that addressed the 1905 Baptist World Congress on missionary work. The first, Mrs. Norman Mather Waterbury, had served as a missionary to India. Burroughs's topic, "Women's Work in Creating a Deeper Interest in Missions in Churches at Home," had been assigned by the congress's program committee.32 That Burroughs played a prominent part in the congress proceedings on missions speaks to the structure of the NBC-USA and the growing visibility and interracial work of women's missionary organizations as a whole. Baptist policy, although favorable to men, was not adverse to employing women as foreign workers. The NBC-USA's Woman's Convention attained some autonomy over its programming and monies and thus provided support for its missionaries. Burroughs's inaugural letter as corresponding secretary to the Woman's Baptist Convention in 1900 included a request that four thousand women give fifty cents each to raise funds for missionary Emma Delaney's trip to Africa. The fundraising drive covered Delaney's travel costs and provided for her accommodations and continued financial support while abroad.33 By 1925, most Baptist missions included women, with NBC-USA female missionaries outpacing men in Suehn and Monrovia, Liberia. Support from the Woman's Convention and the work of Delaney and those black Baptist women who labored at the two locations are credited for black women's dominance there.

Foreign mission work in Africa had the capacity to appeal to black women in ways that domestic field work and participation in female auxiliaries did not. It provided a means to promote the virtue of black womanhood abroad while also allowing opportunities to travel and experience new peoples and lands. African and African American NTS students stressed Western culture and religion, which many black missionaries deemed superior to African beliefs. African-born Victoria White taught Liberian girls home economics, noting that she had "used all of my personal cooking utensils that I had for my 'Hope Chest' that has now become a 'Hopeless Chest', because I am married to Suehn as long as she needs me."34 At the Careysburg station in Liberia, the American Francis Watson baptized Africans and preached "the Jesus Way."35 The white Women's Missionary Union in Virginia, moreover, worked closely with the NBC-USA's Woman's Convention, sending one of its members, Annie Armstrong, to the first annual [End Page 45] meeting of the convention in 1900.36 Among those registered as messengers for the London congress were 219 church women who helped plan the program. Two national women's societies—the Women's American Baptist Home Mission Society of Boston and the Women's American Baptist Home Mission Society of Chicago—also sent official delegates.37

Baptist World Congress Secretary John Shakespeare remarked approvingly that about fifty "negro brethren," of whom an estimated thirty-five hailed from the National Baptist Convention, attended the 1905 conference. Treatment of black representatives was purportedly so congenial that one American attendee remarked, "Would you rather be the governor of your State or a negro delegate in London?"38

Indeed, the American and foreign press responded to Burroughs's debut in England enthusiastically, with the London-based Baptist Times and Freeman lauding her as "one of the most notable personages of the Congress." The American Western Recorder echoed that "Nannie H. Burroughs is the Negro woman who was lionized at the World Baptist Congress."39

Besides dishing out accolades for Burroughs's impressive oratory, the Baptist Times and Freeman noted that her "pleasant features are those of a typical Negress, though she is many shades removed from black."40 The evocation by the newspaper of Burroughs's "typical" physicality on the one hand and the distancing from such racial marking on the other speaks to how black identity worked in an international setting. The author suggested the malleability of racial traits by looking beyond them in an effort to ennoble Burroughs. This was likely aided by the fact that few blacks resided in England at the time.41 Conversely, the demographic novelty of Burroughs possibly encouraged her objectification by British journalists. Thus the author might have felt compelled to describe Burroughs using stereotypical race concepts.

Some white delegates from the American South, moreover, expressed "a great deal of harsh and unchristian criticism" because the Russian delegation entertained black delegates at a luncheon.42 Such sentiment by Baptist southerners spoke to the expectation that etiquette disallowing fraternization between the races in social settings be maintained, even outside one's home region. To have black and Russian Baptists commingling in a shared space smacked of social equality, a notion that threatened a racial caste system defined by white supremacy and black subjugation.43

That incident at the world meeting was a moment when racial boundaries were tested and the supposed convergence of blackness and lack of respectability faced challenge. This particular event gave a glimpse of a world in which African Americans, whether deliberately or not, effected a more egalitarian framing of the race issue abroad through social engagement with Russians. A plea from the Russian delegation to assist poor and [End Page 46] persecuted Baptists in that region resonated with Lewis Garnett Jordan, who equated the abolishment of serfdom in Russia with the abolition of American slavery. Jordan's Foreign Mission Board agreed to help establish a mission in Russia, thus ensuring continued relations between the two parties.44

The sheer magnitude of the National Baptist Convention likely shaped interracial dynamics in positive ways. At the Woman's Convention meeting in September 1905, Burroughs thanked the convention for its financial support of her trip abroad, noting how "when we reported to the World Baptist Congress, 2,110,269 members, with over 16,000 churches, the people marveled at our strength … The delegates to that congress had no idea that we represented so much numerically, financially and spiritually. It was indeed a revelation to the English people, and they never tired of hearing us tell of the struggles and achievements of the American Negro in church work."45

In the context of the world meeting, race had the capacity to carry a nonessentialist meaning. The Baptist World Congress's rhetoric extolling the merits of Christian conversion and religious liberties for the world's peoples naturally dovetailed with discussions about the meaning of citizenship and nationalism. For example, the conversion of Russians to Western-style Christianity challenged fundamental assumptions about the relationship between orthodox religion and Russian nationality. So, too, the seemingly immutable pairing of "blackness" with a marginalized place in America's body politic was disputed by such African Americans as Burroughs, who, following the Baptist World Alliance's inaugural conference, began training black female missionaries while building interracial partnerships among the world's evangelical women.46

"Women arise, he calleth for thee": The Women's Committee of the Baptist World Alliance

Some three thousand Baptist women were introduced to the NTS, with its Christian ethos of self-help and service, at the BWA's Philadelphia meeting in 1911. Reflecting the black history lessons imparted to her students, Burroughs extolled the rapid spiritual and educational advancement made by African Americans since emancipation. She specifically referenced the construction of churches and schools, alongside the operation of the NTS, as notable examples of race progress. Crediting black Baptist women with its funding, the NTS prepared students to "go forth into the world to make homes and lead our people into a glorious future."47 In this sense, Burroughs sought the uplift of the black race with female leadership at the helm but also affirmed such Victorian values as domesticity to legitimize black women's place as civilized and respectable beings globally. After the speech, a quintet comprised of students from the school's chorus captivated [End Page 47] spectators with its rendering of the Negro spiritual "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See." The performance, which purportedly marked the first time a group of black women had sung before the international body, dovetailed with Burroughs's oratory by demonstrating how African Americans had transcended enslavement while emphasizing the shared cultural and spiritual heritage between Africans and African Americans.48

The formation of a Women's Committee of the BWA, with membership drawn from leaders of Baptist women's missionary organizations throughout the world, followed. At the BWA meeting in Toronto in 1928, women attendees recommended that a special alliance committee "develop and express the sentiment of the Baptist women throughout the world in favor of peace and disarmament."49 This directive mirrored the activities of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), founded as the Women's Peace Party at the Hague in 1915. Burroughs knew of the WILPF via the former NACW President Mary Church Terrell, who served as one of WILPF's earliest executive committee members. The Baptist alliance women ultimately supported dissolving the existing women's committee due to women's representation on the executive committee and organizational issues, e.g., no full-time officer was available to coordinate the work of the women.50

At the Cleveland conference in 1950, attendees approved a plan of work that included a quarterly newsletter and an annual Baptist Women's Day of Prayer. The newly christened Women's Committee of the Baptist World Alliance sought "closer fellowship, deeper sympathy, and fuller understanding among Baptist women throughout the world."51 In her keynote address to the Women's Committee, Burroughs sounded a note of prideful assurance of the women's cause. She stated, "We are here today because of what the gospel has done for women. In building on Christ, our Cornerstone, we build on His purpose, His plan, His promise and His power."52 Changes to the Women's Committee over time included a new name, the Women's Department, and the formation of Baptist unions in Africa, Australia, and Asia. Black women remained visible participants. NTS alumnus Joannah Mobola Ayorinde notably presided over the African Union, addressed a plenary session of the 1965 BWA in Miami, and joined other Women's Department members on continental tours of Africa in 1962 and 1967.53 Such activity speaks to the indelible imprint left by Burroughs and her students on the committee.

From her perch at the NTS, Burroughs continued her relationship with the BWA, which continued to esteem her and solicit her support of The Baptist World, a monthly journal that in 1957 began reporting Baptist women's global activities. For example, in 1955, Marjorie M. Armstrong, who worked in the BWA Relief Committee's Refugee Resettlement Program, asked Burroughs [End Page 48] to provide a brief report to be published in The Baptist World on National Baptist Convention plans to erect a Liberian hospital. Burroughs also received conference invitations, including one to the BWA's fifty-fifth anniversary meeting in Rio in 1960. However, not unlike black Baptist men who, at various times, aimed to wrest administrative and financial control of the NTS from Burroughs, race and sex inequity also impacted her relations with the BWA's male hierarchy. In an otherwise laudatory The Baptist World article on Burroughs in 1958, the editor Cyril E. Bryant approved using the term negress to describe her, claiming he was unaware of its offensiveness.54

Burroughs's 1905 London trip marked her last with the Baptist World Alliance. She missed conferences in Copenhagen (1947), London (1955), and Rio (1960)—the last due to illness. A month prior, she had been hospitalized for an undisclosed ailment. Various health issues plagued the race leader, beginning with typhoid fever in her youth. She later received treatment in New York for a radical mastectomy in 1940. Burroughs's foreign travel opportunities were also compromised by her five-decade stewardship of the NTS, which required constant fundraising to keep it financially afloat.55

Burroughs nonetheless used her experience with world Baptists—male and female—to her advantage. Participation in the Women's Committee of the BWA provided Burroughs the moral justification, alongside added organizational and networking experience, with which to refine and enhance the training of African and African American students and missionaries. The Women's Committee Baptist World newsletter, moreover, found resonance in the NTS's The Worker, an in-house missionary publication that aimed to expand understanding of and empathy towards women and colored peoples around the world.

Foreign Missions and the Global Curriculum of the NTS

In 1921, six NTS graduates served as missionaries in Africa in addition to one each toiling in Haiti, Jamaica, and South America. One such missionary, Della E. Harris, received accolades in a letter sent to Burroughs from William T. Amiger, superintendent of the Suehn mission, to which Harris had been assigned as a missionary and teacher. Described by Burroughs as "one of the most capable women ever sent out by the Foreign Mission Board," Harris, a native of the District of Columbia, graduated from the NTS in missionary training in 1918 at the age of thirty-seven.56 A year later, Harris obtained a passport to travel to Liberia for four years.57 Suehn Superintendent Amiger also extolled Harris's virtues, affirming her ambition, spirituality, and the respect she received from her students. While providing instruction meant to be civilizing, Harris notably reshaped gender expectations in that regard. Amiger reported that Suehn chiefs "are begging her" [End Page 49] to preach the word of God and teach their children to read. In this respect, the chiefs were "offering their boys and are doing the rare thing by giving also their girls." Amiger concluded by wishing Harris to "be to Liberian women what you (her teacher) are to the U.S.A. colored women."58

Foreign students who returned to their home countries also sent African girls to Burroughs. Twelve years had passed since Clara Walker's residency in the United States. Specializing in domestic science at the NTS, the then seventeen-year-old graduated in 1922. Prior to her arrival in Liberia on August 21, 1927, Walker opened a successful business venture in Chicago. Writing to Burroughs in 1939, Walker informed her former principal and mentor that Sarah Buffer had set sail for America and NTS. While not "a perfect creature," Walker nonetheless saw Buffer's potential to be remodeled under Burroughs's stewardship. As Walker told Burroughs, "this is your life's work—molding and helping to shape characters and lives. … I only wish that I could send you about a hundred Liberian girls, let them sit at your feet Gemayliel [sic] and bask in the sunshine of your inspiration and knowledge."59

African American students at the NTS, in and outside their interaction with foreign pupils, learned about world cultures and, through missions, the importance of not just exporting Christianity abroad but instilling self-determination and civic leadership among African women and those of African descent. Student clubs, plays, The Worker quarterly, and classes were vehicles in which foreign and American students formed insights, consciousness, and opinions about the world's peoples, events, and ideologies. Such formal and informal modes of instruction reflected larger pedagogical aims centered in an alternative curriculum for African Americans.60 While such black scholars as W. E. B. Du Bois believed in the cultural equality of all races, leading architects of curricula for social studies during the Progressive Era denied that African Americans had any cultural contributions to make to society. Although admitting to the potential of education to improve the cultural "deficiencies" of that racial group, founders of the social studies movement abetted those who held that African Americans constituted an inferior presence in society, thus justifying the idea that they were not yet prepared to assume the full responsibilities of citizenship. Such educators as Mary McLeod Bethune and Charlotte Hawkins Brown worked against them, developing educational paradigms that instilled an ideal of service to others and denounced prevailing stereotypes.61

One such aspect of an alternative curriculum was the NTS's Current Events Club, which began on February 10, 1939, for the purpose of increasing students' awareness of politics, religion, missions, and foreign affairs, among other topics. Eight students ultimately comprised the group, which held hour-long meetings on Friday nights. The creation of the Current [End Page 50] Events Club mirrored Burroughs's participation in the International Council of Women of the Darker Races, where she served as executive chair from 1922 to 1940. In that body, Burroughs and other African American female educators sought to learn about and spread awareness of the conditions of dark-complexioned women in China, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Liberia. Events in the 1930s—increased political radicalism and a Christian student movement—also undergirded the club's founding.62

While not specifically centered on the experiences of the world's "colored" women, NTS students discussed the rise of Adolf Hitler and the expansionist aims of Germany, and, as they deliberated about rumors of a potential accord by Mexico with Germany, students conceived for themselves a broader vision of the world and related what occurred outside the United States to their own sensibilities. The Current Events Club thus functioned as a kind of debating society as members not only reported on global topics of interest to them but also deliberated on them orally, weighing the merits of particular positions. As part of the club's debating activities, students gathered and presented information about topics they themselves chose. At the same time, students fused their fact-finding reports with pointed directives for social change imbued with Christian teachings. Indeed, they determined that "Christianity was the final result of all our reasoning." Thus, students empathized with Spanish loyalists engaged in civil war with right-wing leader Francisco Franco. On the subject of whether the United States should aid China against the imperialist aims of Japan, "everyone willingly admitted that Japan was an aggressor and some aid should be given China."63

The club helped students better contextualize their daily struggles by applying them to a broader global setting. It also proved emblematic of Burroughs's expectation that NTS graduates possess both a deep familiarity with the world and sufficient public speaking experience alongside vocational and academic knowledge. Through such empowerment, students were best trained to assume positions of civic leadership that undergirded a commitment to a community's welfare—including political rights.

The world and young black women's place in it was also envisioned anew through the staging of the popular pageant When Truth Gets a Hearing. Written by Burroughs in 1916 and reprinted approximately twenty-one times by 1972, the one-act play was performed in school and church venues in and outside of the District of Columbia. Designed to induce race pride and highlight black female achievement, the play's text served as a corrective to the Progressive Era's intercultural education movement. While that movement sought to address ethnocentrism and stereotypes of racial groups by teaching students about each group's cultural contributions to America, it tended to ignore the cultural contributions of nonwhite Americans and [End Page 51] provided an essentialist notion of culture that depended solely upon a racial group's place of origin.

In the play, Burroughs stresses the contributions of black women throughout the world by invoking such regal figures as the Queen of Sheba and Candace, queen of the Meroe civilization. By doing so, Burroughs supports the notion of black women eclipsing the narrow confines of domestic work as conscribed by a racially segregated America. At the same time, the play serves to validate black women's labor as a defense of a virtuous black womanhood. Representing "Negro Womanhood," Burroughs wrote that "for 250 years I worked in the cornfields, kept the big house like a palace, nursed the children of my master and loved them with a love and tenderness such as the world has never seen and will never see again." Within this context, Burroughs seeks to assert the rightful historical recognition of black women's labor as valued and respectable; although by doing so, she risks appropriating such history to racist discourse that correlated menial black female labor with white southern paternalism.64 Overall, When Truth Gets a Hearing sought to revise black women as those who played significant communal and leadership roles, both domestically and abroad.

The Worker, an NTS quarterly missionary publication, moreover, tied the fates of African American women with the struggles of the "darker races" in the world. It detailed the atrocities exercised upon African peoples due to European colonization. One of the NTS's mottos, "work, support thyself, to thine own power appeal"—printed on the paper's masthead—spoke to Burroughs's belief in female independence and self-determination as well as her own status as a single, self-sufficient woman. Students, faculty, and staff traveled as readers to distant places and peoples, acquainting themselves with colonial politics and Christian philanthropy in the process. For example, in an essay titled "What the Belgians Did to the Negro" (1916), Burroughs used unsparing words and pictures of mutilated people to convey the genocidal regime of Belgium's Leopold in the Congo. Her rhetoric sought to join the suffering of African peoples in that region with African Americans by stressing the shared—"our kinsmen"—and interdependent identity of both groups. That cultural affinity was ably demonstrated as NBC-USA's Woman's Auxiliary sent clothes, household goods, appliances, and medical supplies to Baptist missions in addition to building nursing schools at those locations. Burroughs ended her editorial with the haunting prospect of Leopold's "soldiers and their off-springs" seeking refuge in the United States, stating "let us pray … that they will not turn again to smite us and lynch us in America."65

In that respect, African graduates of the NTS were doubly tasked not only to provide respectable leadership in their own communities but also, by virtue of their service, to contribute to the uplift of African Americans in the [End Page 52] United States. At a time when middle-class white Americans equated civilized nations with women's identity as spiritual homemakers, to have black female missionaries disseminate practical housekeeping and homemaking skills to those abroad signaled race progress in that both races shared belief in traditional gender norms. Toward that end, a model house was constructed (named after Maggie Lena Walker, the first African American woman bank president) to train students. This "practical house" offered instruction in food preparation, cleaning, and proper usage of modern conveniences like the telephone. The programmatic emphasis on domesticity and moral conduct at Burroughs's school ensured that students were disciplined for misbehavior. Misconduct extended to how students dressed and how neatly they kept their dorm rooms. "Character" traits were regularly evaluated alongside performance in classical and vocational courses.66

Foreign pupils thus implemented Burroughs's domestic pedagogy; yet they aimed for a broader notion of female citizenship encompassing expanded educational, political, and economic opportunity for women in their home communities. Such dual pursuits reveal the tension inherent in propagating traditional female mores. Seeking societal acceptance by adhering to puritanical dictates of proper decorum and conduct, black women also recognized their responsibility, due to a history of black female exploitation, in advancing progressive reforms.

During her twelve years in Monrovia since attending the NTS, Clara Walker opened the "N.T.S. Dress Shop," which specialized in ready-to-wear clothing for women. Given that business's success, several Liberian girls now urged her to open a beauty parlor in Monrovia. The Bonsilla Beauty Shoppe opened thereafter and proved popular for a while. Then, as she relayed to Burroughs, trouble began when she agreed to extend credit to customers who never repaid, forcing her to close the parlor. Despite this setback, Walker continued to operate her sewing shop. And, after much deliberation, she opted to teach domestic science at a school located on the Monrovian coast. At the urging of her father, Walker left her job, returning home where she resumed teaching in the city. Walker took pains to thus express to Burroughs the extent of her industriousness, proudly asserting that ten out of her twelve years in Monrovia had not been "spent in idleness."67 Active in her church, its Sunday school, and "affairs of State," Walker supported women's suffrage in Nigeria and aimed to be one of the first women to be seated in congress once voting rights were secured in that nation. Through the careful dispensing of more than a decade of Christian activity, Walker hoped she had demonstrated to Burroughs "that I'm living and serving whenever that service seems most needed thereby upholding the high standard of my dear Alma Mater. I'm the only Training School girl in Monrovia but I'm letting the folk know that the Training School is a [End Page 53] school of the highest and best standards … bless you for what you did for every girl who even attended dear old N.T.S. Some of them strayed away from her ideals, but they remembered and returned."68

Joannah Ayorinde also proved a model of internationalist and feminist-inspired diplomacy. At age twenty-nine, Ayorinde submitted an application to the NTS in 1938 for study in religious education. Burroughs's friend Blanche Sydnor White, president of the Women's Missionary Union in Richmond, Virginia, fellow member of the Women's Department (BWA), and NTS trustee, appealed for Burroughs's assistance with Ayorinde, who, with her husband, had arrived in the United States to further their schooling. In her letter, White observed that both Ayorindes were "talented, modest, consecrated."69 Ayorinde received excellent grades for her academic and character traits, as judged by NTS faculty, and she remained a faithful correspondent of Burroughs, whom she modeled by being frank and having rigorous standards. Ayorinde, like Burroughs, did not have children.

Returning to Nigeria in 1946 after having received a bachelor of social science degree in sociology and psychology from Hampton Institute, Ayorinde pressed for improvements in women's educational and vocational opportunities. Regarded as a "spiritual giant of African womanhood," Ayorinde supported women's responsibility to produce "Christian homes" while providing a model of female leadership and organizational prowess. She became the first Baptist woman to study abroad, the wife of the first general secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, and the first Nigerian president of the Baptist Women's Union of Africa (1956–1967). As president, Ayorinde traveled throughout Africa helping to organize women's groups across the continent and "encourage and challenge" Baptist women in general.70

Ayorinde also attended the Baptist World Alliance meetings in Copenhagen (1947), London (1955), Rio (1960), and Miami (1965) and, for a time, was the sole African woman within the Baptist Women's Department of the BWA. Such varied activity demonstrates how reproducing gender norms as propagated in Anglo-American culture could likewise result in the transgressing of them. Ayorinde's travel allowed her space in which to revise and reassess notions of female leadership as applied to Nigeria and its Baptist male hierarchy. For example, she established the Women's Missionary Union's (WMU) West Lagos Conference despite opposition from the executive committee of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, of which the WMU was a part. She argued that a conference in Western Nigeria would strengthen the WMU's work, while the executive committee felt the additional conference would overburden the convention's current structure. Ayorinde pressed on with the plan, with convention leaders ultimately relenting. Of Ayorinde, one admirer noted, "Mrs. Ayorinde is a real pioneer [End Page 54] among African women. She has done things, gone to places and spoken frankly when most of us would have been afraid to move."71


The NTS functioned as an autonomous space in which to raise and confront global issues impacting African and African American women. Burroughs laid the foundation for what would be a fifty-year career as its founder and head by establishing her presence on the international scene. Her speeches at the inaugural Baptist World Congress solidified her reputation as a powerful orator and compelling leader of African American women and proved representative of black women's striving for respectable and industrious identities at home and abroad. Burroughs's involvement in what would become the Baptist World Alliance, however, also exposed how the same civilizing notions—based on race and gender—that accompanied the exercise of Christian conversion could be used to diminish her legitimate claim to leadership. Reception of Burroughs's 1905 BWA speech and later encounters with those in the BWA male hierarchy revealed hegemonic ideas about skin color that undermined her vision of a racial and gender inclusive social order.

Although Burroughs never traversed the globe nor set foot in Africa, her students did both. The NTS exposed pupils to vocational, academic, and nontraditional curricula alongside current events as a means of preparing them to contribute to their communities' well-being. African and African American pupils, through their travels—both literal and metaphorical—forged a common identity around the plight of women of color globally. They engaged in what the historian Barbara Bair has termed "relational politics" by seeing to African women's emulation of traditional gender tenets on the one hand, while in other instances envisioning nontraditional goals for them.72 Burroughs's pedagogy was informed by a Victorian feminist ethos shaped alternately by her pride in African American culture and female individualism and by acculturation into a racial and sexually proscribed society. Adherence to Victorian gender ideology underlaid basic notions of citizenship for women and thus provided them the moral justification for the extension of female virtue, as cultivated in private domains, into the public sphere. Abiding by such mores, ironically, laid the foundation for articulations of broader, more egalitarian conceptions of citizenship rights for African and African American women. In pricking students' consciousness on issues of race, gender, and civic discord in the world and the special role of black women's missionary work in addressing them, the National Training School sought an accord between conservative and progressive gender ideals. [End Page 55]

Angela Hornsby-Gutting

ANGELA HORNSBY-GUTTING is an associate professor of history at Missouri State University. She is particularly interested in African American youth culture, race-based communal activism, and gender constructions among black men and women in the early twentieth century. Her first monograph, Black Manhood and Community Building in North Carolina, 1900–1930 (University Press of Florida, 2011) examined how black middle-class men reconciled disfranchisement and racial oppression in an era of legalized segregation by building, alongside black women, various communal institutions designed to improve the race and race relations. Her articles and essays have appeared in the Journal of Negro History, Journal of Southern History, Blackwell Companion to African-American History, and Southern Cultures. She is completing a monograph of the National Training School for Women and Girls. Her research details how the school functioned as a multi-organizational, transnational entity that operated in a modular fashion and satisfied numerous constituencies and ideologies.


I would like to thank the editors and anonymous readers of the JWH for their helpful comments on the article. Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Morgan, and Katrina Thompson Moore also commented on earlier drafts.

1. The Baptist World Congress: London, July 11–19 (London: Baptist Union Publication Department, 1905), 81.

2. Discussion of Burroughs and the BWA focus on her London speeches. See Audrey McCluskey, A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and Activists in the Jim Crow South (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 105; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 170–71; and Opal Easter, Nannie Helen Burroughs (New York: Routledge, 1995).

3. Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent, 14. Works addressing the NTS via respectability, the black church, and race relations in the United States include Traki Taylor, "'Womanhood Glorified': Nannie Helen Burroughs and the National Training School for Woman and Girls, Inc., 1909–1961," The Journal of African American History 87 (Summer 2002): 390–402; Karen Johnson, Uplifting the Women and the Race: The Educational Philosophies and Social Activism of Anna Julia Cooper and Nannie Helen Burroughs (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000); Barbara Savage, Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2008); and Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent, 185–229.

4. N. H. Pius, An Outline of Baptist History: A Splendid Reference Work for Busy Workers. A Record of the Struggles and Triumphs of Baptist Pioneers and Builders (Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1911), 89.

5. McCluskey, A Forgotten Sisterhood, 1, 6.

6. Ibid.; McCluskey, "'We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible': Black Women School Founders and their Mission," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 22, no. 2 (1997): 403–26; James Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 240; Karen A. Johnson, Abul Pitre, and Kenneth L. Johnson, eds., African American Women Educators: A Critical Examination of their Pedagogies, Educational Ideas, and Activism from the Nineteenth to the Mid-Twentieth Century (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); and Charles Wadelington, "Charlotte Hawkins Brown and the Development of the Palmer Memorial Institute Curriculum: Its Founding Philosophy," Journal of Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society 10, no. 2–3 (1989): 104–16.

7. Michelle Rief, "Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The International Agenda of African American Clubwomen, 1880–1940," The Journal of African American History 89, no. 3 (2004): 203–22; and Lisa G. Materson, "African American Women's Global Journeys and the Construction of Class-ethnic Racial Identity," Women's Studies International Forum 32, no.1 (2009): 35–42.

8. Varying accounts of Burroughs's birth date exist. Census data, which provides the spelling "Burrus," suggests 1875. See "Nannie Burrus," 1880, United States Census, Orange County, Virginia, HeritageQuest. For biographical information, see Easter, Nannie Helen Burroughs; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, "Nannie Helen Burroughs," in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1, ed. Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1993): 201–4; William Pickens, Nannie Helen Burroughs and the School of the Three B's (New York: 1923); and Sharon Harley, ed.,Women's Labor in the Global Economy: Speaking in Multiple Voices (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007).

9. By 1907, the Woman's Convention became the largest black women's organization in America with 1.5 million members and 26 state vice presidents. V. P. Franklin and Carter Julian Savage, eds., Cultural Capital and Black Education: African American Communities and the Funding of Black Schooling, 1865 to the Present (Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, 2004).

10. Race activist and educator Booker T. Washington questioned whether a black school outside the Deep South could attract white financial support. Male leaders of the NBC-USA also fretted that, with the school, black women might withdraw fundraising support to the church. See Pickens, School of the Three B's, 7.

11. Ibid., 9–11.

12. Rachel Bernard, "These Separate Schools: Black Politics and Education in Washington DC, 1900–1930" (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2012), 12.

13. Ibid., 79.

14. Ibid., 19, 26. For the legacy of Dunbar, the social worlds, and intra-racial tensions of blacks in the district, see Alison Stewart, First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2015); and Constance McLaughlin Green, Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation's Capital (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969).

15. Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 35.

16. Victoria Wolcott, "'Bible, Bath, and Broom': Nannie Helen Burroughs's National Training School and African-American Uplift," Journal of Women's History 9, no. 1 (1997): 88–110, 99.

17. Sylvia M. Jacobs, "Give a Thought to Africa: Black Women Missionaries in Southern Africa," in Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance, ed. Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), 207–230.

18. Bettye Collier-Thomas, Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 245–46.

19. Burroughs to Honorable Walter F. Walker, 18 July 1940, box 149, Nannie Helen Burroughs Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (hereafter NHB Papers, LC).

20. Circular of Information for the Seventeenth Annual Session of the National Training School for Women and Girls, 1925–1926," box 309, NHB Papers, LC.

21. Ibid.; and Derek Chang, Citizens of a Christian Nation: Evangelical Missions and the Problem of Race in the Nineteenth-Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 91–92.

22. Baptist World Congress, 81.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid.

25. Baptist World Congress, v; and Blanche Sydnor White, The Tie that Binds: A Brief History of the Women's Department of the Baptist World Alliance, 1911–1960 (Washington, DC: Women's Department, Baptist World Alliance, n.d.), 6–7, Canadian Baptist Archives, McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario.

26. The Baptist World Congress, ix; and Michael E. Williams Sr. and Walter B. Shurden, eds., Turning Points in Baptist History: A Festschrift in Honor of Harry Leon McBeth (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008), 224.

27. Easter, Nannie Helen Burroughs, 30.

28. Samuel William Bacote, ed., Who's Who Among the Colored Baptists (Kansas City: Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., 1913), 240.

29. Lewis Garnett Jordan, Up the Ladder in Foreign Missions (Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1901), vi.

30. Brandi Hughes, "Reconstruction's Revival: The Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention and the Roots of Black Populist Diplomacy," in African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy: From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama, ed. Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith, and Joshua C. Yesnowitz (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015), 83–108; First Annual Report of the Woman's Convention, Auxiliary to the NBC (Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1902), 4–5, 11.

31. Chad L. Williams, Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013); Nannie H. Burroughs to Addie W. Hunton, 20 October 1923, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312), Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries (hereafter Du Bois Papers); Burroughs to W. E. B. Du Bois, 1 March 1929, Du Bois Papers. The fifth Pan-African Congress occurred in Manchester in 1945. Minkah Makalani, In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917–1939 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

32. Pius, An Outline of Baptist History, 92–94; and White, The Tie that Binds, 8.

33. Easter, Nannie Helen Burroughs, 33.

34. Victoria White, "The World Turns: A Fine African Woman Gives Thanks," The Worker 12, no. 61 (1949): 8–16, 14.

35. Nannie Helen Burroughs, "By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them," 1934, 3, box 309, NHB Papers, LC., 3. For Western biases among African American missionaries, see Collier-Thomas, Jesus, Jobs, and Justice, 226; and Hughes, "Reconstruction's Revival," 96.

36. Regina D. Sullivan, Lottie Moon: A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2011), 134.

37. White, The Tie that Binds, 7.

38. The Baptist World Congress, vi.

39. Pickens, School of the Three B's, 43; and "Final Arrangements for Miss N. H. Burroughs to Speak Here," The Nashville Globe, March 19, 1909.

40. "Final Arrangements for Miss. N.H. Burroughs to Speak Here."

41. In the early 1900s, blacks accounted for 20,000 to 25,000 of England's population. The censuses of 1911 through 1931 showed the number of Africans and Caribbean people at less than 14,000. Marc Matera, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), 22; and Deborah J. Rossum, "'A Vision of Black Englishness': Black Intellectuals in London, 1910–1940," Stanford Electronic Humanities Review 5, no. 2 (1997),

42. Pius, Outline of Baptist History, 97; and Vladimir Alexandrov, The Black Russian (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013), 38.

43. The Southern Baptist Convention, objecting to what members regarded as the BWA's support of homosexuality and female clergy, withdrew its voluntary participation in 2004. Alan Cooperman, "Southern Baptists Vote to Leave World Alliance," Washington Post, June 16, 2004, A02.

44. Pius, Outline of Baptist History, 98.

45. National Baptist Convention, Sixth Annual Session of the Woman's Convention, 1905 (Nashville: Sunday School Publishing Board, 1906), 261–65.

46. Heather J. Coleman, Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution 1905–1929 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

47. The Baptist World Alliance: Second Congress, Philadelphia, June 19–25, 1911 (Philadelphia: Harper & Brother Company), 179–181.

48. Ibid.; and Pickens, School of the Three B's, 25.

49. White, The Tie that Binds, 9–12.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid., 14–20. The name change occurred at the London jubilee conference in 1955. The women also adopted as the group's emblem a shield with an open Bible. "The Women's Department of the Baptist World Alliance," in Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, vol. 3, ed. Davis C. Woolley, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971), 1604–5.

52. Ibid., 22.

53. Ibid.; and Atinuke Bamijoko, Moon of Africa (Ibadan, Nigeria: Baptist Press Ltd., 1969), 25.

54. Burroughs's friend reported the incident. Mdodana-Arbouin to Burroughs, April 1958, box 20, NHB Papers, LC; Bryant to Mdodana-Arbouin, 12 May 1958, box 20, NHB Papers, LC; and Armstrong to Burroughs, 13 December 1955, box 1, NHB Papers, LC. There is no record of Burroughs responding to Armstrong's request.

55. Rio marked the first time the BWA had met outside of North America and Europe. Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, 3:1602; Johnson, Uplifting the Women and the Race, 51; and Norman H. Pritchard, M.D., doctor's note, 15 May 1940, box 62, NHB Papers, LC.

56. "Report of the Work of Baptist Women" in African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness, ed. Milton C. Sernett (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999), 383.

57. "Enrollment Records," 1915–1916, box 147, NHB Papers, LC; and "United States Passports Applications, 1795–1925," National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M1490 and M1372.

58. Pickens, School of the Three B's, 23–24. Inequities marking African male life from that of females have been noted by scholars. See Sylvia Jacobs, "Afro-American Women Missionaries Confront the African Way of Life," in Women in Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Andrea Rushing (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1987), 21–32.

59. "Enrollment, 1921–22," box 147, NHB Papers, LC; and Clara L. Walker to Burroughs, 21 August 1939, box 149, NHB Papers, LC.

60. Alana D. Murray, "Countering the Master Narrative in U.S. Social Studies: Nannie Helen Burroughs and New Narratives in History Education," in Histories of Social Studies and Race: 1865–2000, ed. Christine Woyshner and Chara Bohan (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), 99–114.

61. Thomas D. Fallace, "The Racial and Cultural Assumptions of the Early Social Studies Educators, 1901–1922," in Woyshner and Bohan, Histories of Social Studies and Race: 1865–2000, 37–56.

62. "Current Events Club," February 10, 1939, box 312, NHB Papers, LC; Rief, "Thinking Locally, Acting Globally," 214–18; and Robert Cohen, When the Old Left Was Young: Student Radicals and America's First Mass Student Movement, 1929–1941 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

63. "Current Events Club," February 17, 1939; February 24, 1939; and March 28, 1939, box 312, NHB Papers, LC.

64. When Truth Gets a Hearing, 1916–1921, box 47, NHB Papers, LC; and Fallace, "The Racial and Cultural Assumptions," 49.

65. "What the Belgians Did to the Negro," The Worker, no. 2 (1915): 1.

66. Box 318, NHB Papers, LC. For student discipline, see, for example, box 73, NHB Papers, LC; and box 153, NHB Papers, LC.

67. Clara L. Walker to Burroughs, 21 August 1939, box 149, NHB Papers, LC.

68. Ibid.

69. "Application Blank," box 148, NHB Papers, LC; and White to Burroughs, 24 June 1938, box 148, NHB Papers, LC.

70. Yetunde Olaomo, "Ayorinde, Joannah (A)," Dictionary of Christian Biography, 2009,; and Bamijoko, Moon of Africa, 24.

71. Olaomo, "Ayorinde"; I. A. Adedoyin, Dr. J. T. Ayorinde: A Study in the Growth of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (Ibadan: Nigerian Baptist Bookstore Ltd., 1998), 14–15; and Bamijoko, Moon of Africa, 27.

72. Barbara Bair, "Pan-Africanism as Process: Adelaide Casely Hayford, Garveyism, and the Cultural Roots of Nationalism," in Imagining Home: Class, Culture, and Nationalism in the African Diaspora, ed. Sidney Lemelle and Robin D. G. Kelley (London: Verso Press, 1994), 121–144.

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