By Ruthe Winegarten

Brave Black girls: From Slavery to the distance trip via Ruthe Winegarten

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Gertrude Ross Rydolph was an excellent horsewoman on a ranch near Victoria. In 1911, she and her husband started their own ranch, where she also worked as a secretary and bookkeeper. Other women also ran successful businesses. Jane Calloway, a Dallas widow, sold coal to keep people’s houses and businesses warm. Mary A. Warren of Houston was the first black female photographer in the United States. She opened her business in 1866, right after the Civil War. A number of women became teachers, nurses, and dressmakers.

Ethelyn Taylor Chisum was a dean at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas for 32 years. HIGHER EDUCATION MANY of the first colleges for blacks were private schools established by religious groups. They were training young people to become teachers or ministers. Students had not always been prepared for college courses, and they had to work hard to learn basic skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. As the colleges expanded their course offerings, students studied more difficult subjects like geometry, government, history, and science.

Women spent long hours over pots of boiling water. One pot was for soapy water, and sometimes two or more were used for rinsing. The clothes had to be pushed down in the water and pulled out with big sticks. The heavy, wet clothes were wrung out by hand. Finally, the clothes were either hung on a line or laid out on bushes to dry in the sun. This was an all-day job. After freedom, mothers and children worked together to earn money for their families by doing laundry for other people. Many slave women used to press other people’s cotton clothes.

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