Maria Louise Baldwin

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Cambridge Public Schools

National Park Service

African American Registry


Maria Louise Baldwin
September 13, 1856 – January 9, 1922
Unitarian Church of the Disciples (Boston)

  • Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts; educated in Cambridge public schools; graduated from Cambridge Training School for Teachers (1875); continued her education at Harvard University
  • Taught at a segregated school in Chestertown, Maryland after being unable to secure a teaching position in the Cambridge Public Schools system
  • Taught student teachers as Hampton Institute (Virginia) and The Institute for Colored Youth (Pennsylvania) during summers
  • Hired as a teacher in Cambridge at Agassiz School (1882) amid pressure from the African American community; served the school for over 40 years
  • Appointed principal at Agassiz School in 1889; was first African American in New England to hold the post “Master of School”
  • Established the first parent-teacher group in the Cambridge Public Schools; created first open-air classroom in Cambridge; championed the policy of hiring school nurses
  • Passionate and accomplished public speaker on topics ranging from education, suffrage, and lynching; was lauded by e.e. cummings, a graduate of the Agassiz School, who stated “Miss Baldwin, the dark lady… (and a lady if ever a lady existed) was blessed with a delicious voice, charming manners and a deep understanding of children”
  • Maintained membership and leadership roles in many civic and educational institutions of the day, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association, League of Women for Community Service, and the Banneker Society, a debate club focused on African American issues
  • Organized and hosted in her own home the Omar Circle, of which W.E.B. DuBois was a famous member; fostered lively debate on topics relevant to prominent thinkers of Boston intelligentsia such as William Lloyd Garrison, as well as weekly classes for Black Harvard and Radcliffe students
  • Raised funds for the education of Black children in Atlanta and New York City
  • Was honored with the renaming of Agassiz School, which became the Maria L. Baldwin School in 2004