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Bookkeeper, feminist and business woman, Nannie Burroughs founded a school to help girls get a job and become self-sufficient...

Nannie Helen Burroughs was an African-American civil rights activist, feminist and businesswoman. From 1898 to 1909, Burroughs worked as the editorial secretary and bookkeeper of the National Baptist Convention (NBC).

During this time Burroughs helped found the Women’s Convention, the female arm of the NBC, and delivered a speech at the First Baptist World Alliance meeting in London called “Women’s Part in the World’s Work.” Under Burroughs’ leadership of the program, membership grew to 1.5million and members became actively engaged in the suffrage movement and social reform.

Burroughs later founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, DC. It was the first school in America to provide vocational training for African-American women and its mission was to help students become self-sufficient wage earners and “expert homemakers.”  

The school was open to women and girls of any religious faith but it did have a strong religious foundation, with Burrough’s self-help “creed” stressing the importance of the three Bs; Bible, bath, and broom: “clean life, clean body, clean house.”

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This is part of our year-long #ICB100Women Campaign honouring 100 influential and inspiring women bookkeepers, to celebrate the suffrage centenary. 

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