Author: Antoinette G. van Zelm


Jennie Serepta Dean (1848–1913)

Jennie Serepta Dean founded the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth. A formerly enslaved person, Dean attended schools in Fairfax County and Washington, D.C., and in 1878 began to establish a series of Sunday schools. She was a skilled fund-raiser, securing money from African American and white donors in Virginia and in northern cities to support her plan to open a school that would teach skilled trades to young African Americans. The Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth opened in 1894 after nearly six years of fundraising. Dean served on the school’s board of directors and executive committee. She died in 1913.


Martha Haines Butt (1833–1871)

Martha Haines Butt was a novelist, poet, and essayist who in 1853 became one of five southern women to respond to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) with a novel of her own. Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South (1853) defended slavery as moral and Christian, but it never achieved the critical or popular success that Stowe or even the other rebuttals received. A Norfolk native, Butt continued to write, contributing to both regional and national magazines. She championed women’s intellectual engagement but criticized efforts on behalf of women’s rights, generally affirming the traditional role of women. Late in her life, however, she became involved in the woman suffrage movement and served as vice president of the Virginia State Woman Suffrage Association in 1870. Butt died of pneumonia a year later.