Charlotte Hawkins Brown State Historic Site Receives a History of Equal Rights Grant

SEDALIA

The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, a North Carolina State Historic Site, has received a $278,763 grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) funded through the Historic Preservation Fund and History of Equal Rights grant program, for the repair and renovation of the Carrie Stone Teachers’ Cottage. Six of these grants totaling $2.4 million were awarded for projects across the United States. With these funds, organizations and agencies conserve significant U.S. cultural and historic resources, which illustrate, interpret, and are associated with the great events, ideas, and individuals that contribute to our nation’s history and culture.

Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Today, the campus provides a setting where visitors can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century. The museum links Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to the larger themes of African American history, civil rights history, equal rights history, women's history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made in North Carolina.

The Carrie Stone Teacher’s Cottage was constructed on the west side of Palmer Memorial Institute’s campus in 1948. Located next to Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown’s home, Canary Cottage, the Stone Cottage provided housing for the growing number of single female teachers who assisted Dr. Brown in her work at the school. Dr. Brown, an educator, activist, and founder of Palmer Memorial Institute (PMI) worked throughout her life to expand and secure civil rights for both African Americans and women. She was a fervent supporter of expanded educational opportunities, securing voting rights for all, and interracial cooperation in the segregated South.

Outside of her work as an educator, Dr. Brown spoke throughout the United States and internationally. Her civil rights work embraced a wide range of issues, including voting rights, labor rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and intellectual freedom.

In the curriculum she created at PMI, Dr. Brown instilled the value of good citizenship in her students. She encouraged young women to participate in student government and campus leadership councils. Debate and speech clubs were routine extracurricular activities, as was a “Problems of Democracy” discussion group and class. Part of PMI’s uniqueness was how the school and its leadership modeled and instilled democratic ideals and values in students, giving them the tools to become contributing members of society. PMI students rose to the task as ardent participants of democracy during a time when women and African Americans were experiencing systemic disenfranchisement.

For more information on this project please contact Michelle Lanier, Director of the Division of State Historic Sites and Properties at michelle.lanier@ncdcr.gov or Jennifer Farley, West Region Supervisor for State Historic Sites and Properties at jennifer.farley@ncdcr.gov. For questions regarding the History of Equal Rights grant program, or to comment on this or any other proposed Historic Preservation Fund grant project, please contact the State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Division, National Park Service, at 202-354-2020 or stlpg@nps.gov

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