Charlotte Hawkins Brown and the Palmer Institute

  • Katherine C. Reynolds


The educational work of Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1883–1961) was an ill fit for progressive referents like “child centered” or “classroom community.” On the surface, the Alice Freeman Palmer Memorial Institute (Palmer Institute), the school Brown founded for African Americans in rural Sedalia, North Carolina, appeared rule bound in method and controlling in philosophy. Dress codes, schedules, and student work programs loomed large at the all-grades private boarding school. However, when progressive education is viewed in terms of social development in the context of regional and economic realities, Brown’s efforts can be located within reform endeavors embraced by Progressive Era educators. Her experiences and contributions, as well as those of a number of other African Americans seeking schooling for blacks in an overwhelmingly hostile environment, reflect Kliebard’s notion that progressive educators could be found in “reform subgroups” of similar ideologies, rather than in a large movement under a single coherent umbrella.1


African American Student Progressive Educator Dress Code Brown Paper African American Teacher 
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Copyright information

© Alan R. Sadovnik, Susan F. Semel 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine C. Reynolds

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