Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History

Academics

1846

Zerviah Mitchell becomes the first African-American to apply to Wheaton

Zerviah Mitchell became the first known African-American to apply to Wheaton. It appears that she did so at the request of her parents, and was actually as unenthusiastic about the prospect of attending Wheaton as Wheaton was about accepting her. "It would be no disappointment to me if not excepted (sic) so you may not be afraid to give me an answer if it is in the negative," Mitchell wrote. Her letter noted her preference for Abott Academy, where she had also applied. The Wheaton administration took this statement as an easy way to deal with the issue of whether or not to admit her, and replied that she would be happier at Abott.

Wheaton Histories, Seminary: Admissions, 1835-1899: Barrows to Mitchell, 3/14/48 and Mitchell to Barrows, 3/7/48.

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