Clara Ann Howard

Clara Ann Howard (January 23, 1866 — May 2, 1935) was an American educator and, from 1890 to 1895, a Baptist missionary in Africa.

Early life

Clara Ann Howard was from Greenville, Georgia, the only daughter of the nine children born to King Howard and Mary Ann Howard. Her father was born in slavery and bought his own freedom before Emancipation; he was literate, and a skilled carriage maker.[1] She was raised in Atlanta, Georgia.[2] She was one of the first students to attend Spelman Seminary,[3] graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1887.[4][5]


Howard taught school in Atlanta after college. In 1890, she joined the Women's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society,[6] and was stationed at Lukunga in the Congo for the next five years.[7] Howard was the second Spelman graduate to go to the Congo, after her classmate Nora A. Gordon, who arrived in Lukunga in 1889.[5] The pair taught school, ran an orphanage, and even operated a printing office. "You can not imagine how glad we are to be together here," she wrote home to their friends in 1891.[8]

She returned to the United States in 1895 for health reasons, though she returned to the mission field in Panama, briefly.[9] In 1899 she joined the staff at Spelman Seminary, as a matron in the student boarding department, overseeing living arrangements for all the young women students at the school. Spelman's president, Lucy Hale Tapley, commended Howard, saying "Very few women could carry her work as well as she does. No matter what our difficulties, we can count on Miss Howard to be brave, co-operative, and helpful."[4] Howard raised funds for African mission work through her later years, and provided particular support to several young Congolese women who were students at Spelman.[4][9][10] Many of those women, in turn, became missionaries.[11]

Personal life

Howard died in 1935, aged 69 years.[1] Howard-Harreld Hall at Spelman College, a dormitory opened in 1968, was named for Clara Ann Howard and Claudia White Harreld.[12]


  1. "Pioneer at Spelman Dies at Her Home" Pittsburgh Courier (May 11, 1935): 8. via
  2. L. C. Fleming, "Clara A. Howard" in Lawson Andrew Scruggs, Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character (L. A. Scruggs 1893): 256-257.
  3. Allison Dorsey, To Build Our Lives Together: Community Formation in Black Atlanta, 1875-1906 (University of Georgia Press 2004): 96. ISBN 9780820326191
  4. Clement Richardson, National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (National Publishing Company 1919): 131.
  5. Sylvia M. Jacobs, "Three African American Women Missionaries in the Congo, 1887-1899: The Confluence of Race, Culture, Identity, and Nationality" in Barbara Reeves-Ellington, Kathryn Kish Sklar, Connie A. Shemo, eds., Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812–1960 (Duke University Press 2009): 325-326. ISBN 9780822392590
  6. "Missionaries of the W. B. F. M. Society" Helping Hand (January 1898): 9.
  7. "To Evangelize Africa" Atlanta Constitution (February 17, 1890): 5. via
  8. Carolyn Quick Tillery, Southern Homecoming Traditions: Recipes And Remembrances (Citadel Press 2006): 85-86. ISBN 9780806526836
  9. Jacqueline Jones Royster, Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women (University of Pittsburgh Press 2000): 156-158. ISBN 9780822972112
  10. Sandy D. Martin, "Spelman's Emma B. Delaney and the African Mission" in Judith Weisenfeld and Richard Newman, eds., This Far By Faith: Readings in African-American Women's Religious Biography (Routledge 2014). ISBN 9781136663581
  11. Bettye Collier-Thomas, Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion (Knopf Doubleday Publishing 2010): 227-228. ISBN 9780307593054
  12. Residence Halls, Student Life, Spelman College.
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