Nora A. Gordon

Nora A. Gordon (August 25, 1866 – January 26, 1901) was an African American missionary and teacher.

Nora A. Gordon
Born(1866-08-25)August 25, 1866
DiedJanuary 26, 1901(1901-01-26) (aged 34)
OccupationBaptist missionary

Early life and education

Nora Antonia Gordon was born in Columbus, Georgia to parents who had been slaves of Governor John B. Gordon. She attended a Christian missionary school in Cleveland, Ohio and after graduating, enrolled in seminary school in 1882.[1] In 1888 she graduated from Spelman Seminary (which later became Spelman College).[2]


She was selected from a pool of applicants to go as a missionary to Africa,[1] and began the tradition of Spelman missionary work,[3] as the first graduate to go to Africa.[4] Though she had been offered a job as a school teacher in Atlanta, Gordon chose to accept the missionary assignment of the Women's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of the West.[5] She spent a year in a missionary school in London on her way to the Palabala mission in the Congo, where she worked with Louise Celia Fleming, teaching students in both a schoolhouse and in Sunday School.[2] In 1890, she was transferred to the Lukunga Mission Station in West Central Africa, where she founded a school with Clara Ann Howard,[6] a classmate who also graduated from Spelman in 1887.[7] Gordon was in charge of the afternoon school and the printing office.[2]

In 1893, she took a leave of absence and returned to the United States, taking two young African women with her to begin their studies at Spelman.[8]

Personal life and legacy

In 1895, while in the US, she married Reverend Simeon Cunningham Gordon, a Jamaican who had attended Spurgeon's College in London.[9] At Spelman, they were active in the "Congo Mission Circle" which prepared students for service in Africa.[10] They returned to the Congo soon after their marriage accepting placement at Stanley Pool. Political difficulties and her poor health hindered their efforts.[8] Gordon had two children in the Congo, but both died.[9] After the second child's death, in 1900 she came back to the United States in poor health.[8] Nora Gordon died in January 1901, at Spelman College.[11]

The contribution of Gordon, and other African American women after her, such as Louise Fleming and Clara Howard, was significant in both the United States and in Africa, "for the change they helped bring about in the lives of African women and children".[12]


  1. "Off to Congo". Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Constitution. 7 March 1889. p. 5. Retrieved 21 December 2015 via
  2. "One of Spelman's Finest: Nora A. Gordon". Chapel Hill, North Carolina: African American Registry. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  3. Weisenfeld & Newman 2014, p. 224.
  4. Neverdon-Morton 1991, p. 13.
  5. Neverdon-Morton 1991, p. 50.
  6. Collier-Thomas 2010, p. 227.
  7. Lindley & Stebner 2008, p. 108.
  8. Lindley & Stebner 2008, p. 91.
  9. Green 2012, p. 229.
  10. Neverdon-Morton 1991, p. 52.
  11. Neverdon-Morton 1991, p. 51.
  12. Reeves-Ellington, Sklar & Shemo 2009, p. 320.


Relevant literature

  • "Death of Mrs. Gordon, of Stanley Pool. March 1901. The Missionary Herald of the Baptist Missionary Society. pp. 93,94.
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