Friday, April 15, 2022

Fannie Jackson Coppin- Making a Difference


Being born into slavery in 1837, Fannie Jackson (at the time) was one of the least likely people to make a mark in US history. She was not only African American and a slave, but she was also a woman. Her grandfather purchased his own freedom and four of his children's freedom as well, leaving Fannie's mother in slavery in Washington DC.


By Unknown author - Fanny Jackson Coppin, Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching, Public Domain,

At the age of twelve, Fannie's freedom was purchased by her Aunt Sarah for $125. To give you an idea of the sacrifice of Sarah Orr Clark, I looked up a women's wages during that time. A woman working in the textile industry could expect to be paid $2 a week plus board (some were as low as $1.25). A woman working in domestic service and tailoring could earn .50-$1 a week.

When Fannie's freedom was purchased, she was then sent to another aunt in Bedford Massachusetts. But she only remained with her aunt for two years, and at the young age of fourteen, Frannie decided she needed to take care of herself. 

She found an employer in Rhode Island and went to work in the household of author George Henry Calvert. The Calverts' were an upper-class family, him being the great-grandson of Lord Baltimore and his wife, Elizabeth, being the descendant of Mary Queen of the Scots. Their aristocratic qualities molded Fannie. Her desire to learn was so great she was allowed one hour every other afternoon to study. She hired a tutor with her earnings and was later able to go to public school. During her stay with the Calverts, Mrs. Calvert taught her domestic skills. Fanny finished her schooling at the Rhode Island State Normal School. It was there she found her love of learning and wanted every Black American to have the opportunity to learn as she did. 

Public Domain,
Her aunt helped her continue her education at Oberlin College, a college breaking barriers. For they were the first College to accept Black Americans and women. She stayed with two different professors and their families while going to school, becoming part of their families. The second black American to graduate from the school, Frannie earned her bachelor's degree in 1865. While she had attended the college Frannie had four big accomplishments. She established an evening school for freed slaves, she was the first African American to be appointed to the College's preparatory department, and she was elected to the Young Ladies Literary Society. Lastly, she had received a job offer to teach Greek and Latin and higher mathematics.

                       By Smallbones - Own work, Public Domain,

It was in September that Frannie took the job at The Institute of Colored Youth in Philidelphia. She only worked there a year before being promoted to principal of the women's department. Within three years, at the young age of 32, she was promoted yet again to principal of the entire school. This position gave her another first as the first African American woman to gain the title of school principal. Her determination to break the barriers of her people continued on in her life. She saw opportunities and took them or opened doors herself. One of which was raising money for a new department in the school that helped men and women learn crafts. 

By Nick-philly - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Fanny and her husband went to South Africa and founded a missionary school, Bethel Institute in 1902. Retiring in 1906 due to her health, she traveled with her pastor husband helping organize mission organizations.  Fannie continued to improve the lives of the African Americans until her death in 1913. 

Book 2 in the series, Bride by Beguilement, coming this summer.

A broken heart, a controlling father, and an intrusive Scot leave Charlotte Jackson reeling. Accused of stealing an heirloom pin, she must choose between an unwanted marriage and the ruin of her family name. With the futures of her three younger sisters at stake, as well as her own reputation, Charlotte must navigate through injustice to find forgiveness and true happiness.

Eager to find the traitor who caused the death of his brother, Duncan Mackenzie comes to America and attempts to fit in with Charleston society. But when the headstrong Charlotte catches his eye, Duncan takes on a second mission—acquiring the lass's hand. After being spurned several times, he uses unconventional ways of winning her heart.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 3 dogs, 4 horses, miniature donkey, and 8 ducks. Life is good!


  1. Thanks for posting today. Fanny's story is amazing. Thank God for her aunt! There is a lesson in here for us to encourage our young ones in their natural abilities and if we have the power and means to help them achieve their dreams, we should do it!

  2. Hello My Faithful Friend! Fanny is such an inspiration and as you said her life is a lesson to all of us. What a determined young lady. And her love for others is so beautiful! Thanks for coming by Connie. :)

  3. I'd never heard of Fanny Jackson-Coppin before. Sounds like she was an amazing young woman! What a beautiful sacrifice her aunt must have made to purchase her freedom. What an inspirational story!