Author: Anne Firor Scott


Janie Aurora Porter Barrett (August 9, 1865–August 27, 1948)

Janie Aurora Porter Barrett was an educator who was instrumental in the founding of the Industrial Home School for Colored Girls, later the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls. Barrett was born in 1865 to Julia Porter, an African American domestic servant and seamstress, and an unknown father who may have been white. Barrett founded the Locust Street Social Settlement in Hampton and helped found the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1908 and served as its president until 1932. She raised money and built political support for the Industrial Home School for Colored Girls, which opened in Hanover County in 1915. In the 1920s Barrett took an active part in the Virginia Commission on Interracial Cooperation and in the Richmond Urban League. She served for four years as chairman of the executive board of the National Association of Colored Women, and in 1929 she received the William E. Harmon Award for Distinguished Achievement among Negroes. Barrett died on August 27, 1948, of diabetes and arteriosclerosis and was buried in Elmerton Cemetery in Hampton. Two years after her death the General Assembly renamed the school she had founded the Janie Porter Barrett School for Girls.