Maria Baldwin (1856-1922), educator
Maria Baldwin House
Photograph by Sarah Burks.
The Maria Baldwin House, the northern half of a 19th-century Cambridge duplex, was home to Baldwin when she served as the first female African-American principal in a Massachusetts school. Maria Baldwin, born and educated in Cambridge, graduated from the Cambridge Teachers Training School in 1875. She began teaching in Maryland because she could not find a job in the Cambridge area. In 1882, however, pressure from the African-American community resulted in Baldwin being hired as a primary school teacher at Agassiz Grammar School in Cambridge. She was appointed principal in 1889, and later, in 1916, when a new, larger building was built, she was appointed master of the school. As master, she supervised 12 teachers, all white, who presided over a 98% white student body. She was one of only two women in the Cambridge school system who held the position of master, and she was the only African-American in New England who held such a position. Baldwin was a civic leader and lecturer as well. Remembered as a quiet, dignified woman, her public lectures were designed to educate her audiences about the lives of great Americans.
The Maria Baldwin House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 196 Prospect St. in Cambridge, MA. The property is a private residence and not open to the public.
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