• Council House Front Door

    Mary McLeod Bethune Council House

    National Historic Site DC

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  • Archives Relocated to Museum Resource Center

    The National Park Service (NPS) has relocated the National Archives for Black Women’s History collection from Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site to the NPS’s Museum Resource Center in Landover, Maryland. More »

  • Parking Advisory

    On-street parking is limited, public transportation suggested. Nearest Metros are the U Street and McPherson Square stations. Please be aware street sweeping occurs on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30-11:30am, further limiting parking during that time. More »


Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)

Mary McLeod Bethune, c.1955

Mary McLeod Bethune used the power of education, political activism, and civil service to achieve racial and gender equality globally. The first person in her family born free and the only person in her family afforded a formal education, Bethune emerged from abject poverty and oppression of the Reconstruction Era South to achieve greatness. In 1904, she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls, known today as Bethune-Cookman University. President Roosevelt called upon Mary McLeod Bethune in 1935 to work under his administration. She was appointed Director of the Negro Division of the National Youth Administration, becoming the highest ranking African American woman in the the federal government. While living in Washington, DC, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) to combat racial, class, and gender discrimination worldwide. During World War II, Bethune recruited African American women to serve in the Women's Army Corps. On the homefront, the NCNW raised 2 million dollars and purchased their own Liberty Ship, named the S.S. Harriet Tubman. Mary McLeod Bethune rose to prominence to become a powerful voice for human rights. She set the stage for the modern Civil Rights Movement and her influence continues to transcend generations.

Did You Know?

NYA (National Youth Administration) girls' welding class. Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Mary McLeod Bethune to be Director of the Office of Negro Affairs, National Youth Administration. With this appointment, Mary McLeod Bethune became the first African American woman to head a U.S. Federal Government agency.