Mary Jane Patterson (September 12, 1840-September 24, 1894) was the first black woman in the United States to receive a degree. She graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor's degree in 1862, with highest honors. She taught in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. She served as the first black principal of the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (now known as Dunbar High School) in Washington, DC. Patterson was a pioneer in black education and paved the way for other black female educators. She was a humanitarian and active in many organizations, one of which was the Colored Woman's League of Washington, DC. This group focused on kindergarten teaching training, rescue work, and classes for industrial schools and homemaking.
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