Jane Edna Hunter from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Jane Edna Hunter from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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HUNTER, JANE EDNA (HARRIS) – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

HUNTER, JANE EDNA (HARRIS) (13 Dec. 1882-17 Jan. 1971), prominent African American social worker, founded the PHILLIS WHEATLEY ASSOCIATION. The daughter of a sharecropper, she was born Jane Edna Harris at Woodburn Farm near Pendleton, SC. She acquired her last name by a brief marriage. Hunter graduated in 1905 as a trained nurse from Hampton Institute, VA, and came to Cleveland, serving in various nursing jobs. She attended Marshall Law School (later Cleveland Marshall Law School of CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY) and passed the Ohio bar examination. Hunter organized the Working Girls Association in 1911 to provide safe living quarters for unmarried African American WOMEN and girls who needed a place of residence. Later that year, the name changed to the Phillis Wheatley Association. The association was modelled by 9 similar institutions throughout the United States. Hunter served as the association’s executive secretary until 1948. Following retirement, she founded the Phillis Wheatley Foundation, a scholarship fund for African American high school graduates. The foundation later established the Jane Edna Hunter Scholarship Fund in her honor. Hunter held honorary degrees from Fisk University, Allen University in Columbia, SC, and Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She founded the Women’s Civic League of Cleveland (1943), belonged to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP), and served as vice-president and executive committee member of the National Association of Colored Women.


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