Spelman graduates enter the Spelman College commencement last May at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Photo: Branden Camp
Photo: Branden Camp

5 things to know about Spelman College

Spelman College is observing its Founders’ Week. 

Here are five things to know about the Atlanta college, which has educated generations of women of African descent.

  1. The institution began in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. It became Spelman College in 1924.
  2. 2. The first president was Sophia B. Packard. She served as a teacher and preceptor at the New Salem Academy where she met Harriet E. Giles. The two later co-founded Spelman.

3. In 1889,  Nora Gordon, the first student to become a missionary to Africa, leaves for the Congo.

4. Spelman has a 76 percent graduation rate (average over six years).

5.  In 1987 , Johnnetta Betsch Cole  was elected as the first Black woman president. She was affectionately known as the “sister president.”


Notable Spelman graduates

 History of Spelman College presidents

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