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Fannie Cobb Carter


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African-American educator Fannie Cobb (September 30, 1872-March 29, 1973) was born in Charleston in the same year a new state constitution prohibited black children and white children from attending school together. Cobb learned early the value of education and dedicated her life to providing future generations with the tools they needed to move on in the world.

Cobb earned her teaching degree from Storer College in Harpers Ferry in 1891 and returned home to teach in Kanawha County’s public schools. She continued her education by attending summer institutes at Oberlin College, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University, among others.

In 1908, Cobb organized the teacher-training department at West Virginia Colored Institute, now West Virginia State University, where she remained for 12 years. After her husband, Emory Carter, a Charleston lawyer, died in 1925, she was named superintendent of the State Industrial Home for Colored Girls in Huntington. However, Carter refused to accept her appointment until state officials removed the bars from the home’s windows.

In 1935, Carter was named director of adult education for Kanawha County schools. She retired after two years, but her career was not yet finished. In 1945, Carter became dean of women at the National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls in Washington, and at age 89 served as the school’s acting president.

Fannie Cobb Carter returned to Charleston in 1962 and remained active in the African-American community until her death six months after her 100th birthday.

Written by Christine M. Kreiser

Sources

  1. Missing Chapters: West Virginia Women's in History. Charleston: West Virginia Women Commission & the Humanities Foundation of West Virginia, 1983.