|National Freedmen's Relief Organization
St. Augustine Florida
|National Freedmen's Relief Organization
Organization and Bylaws
It is the object of this Association to supply, so far as may be practical and necessary, the wants of the
Freedmen of the black race in the United States, and to secure their general improvement in the arts of
civilized life, to secure for them opportunity for labor, to imbue them with ideas of order, industry, economy,
and self-reliance, and to open to them the avenues to social happiness and prosperity.
This it proposes to do with the sympathy and co-operation of the Federal Government, and by such general
agencies as it may be able to command.
The Committee on Teachers shall have charge of the educational department, so far as the selection of
superintendents and teachers for the various fields is concerned, shall decide on the number to be employed,
accredit their testimonials, maintain correspondence with them, pronounce judgment on all matters affecting
their utility and fitness as teachers, decide on the amount and kind of labor they are to perform, the length of
the school term, the rate of remuneration which they shall receive, and shall, through its chairman, approve
their bills, to be audited for payment by the Executive Committee.
March 28th, 1863
Many of the women make great efforts to learn to read, and meet with a good degree of success. Indeed,
some learn very rapidly, and it is very pleasing to witness their delight at their progress especially when they
find they can commence reading their Bibles.
We are not at all of the opinion maintained by some of our acquaintances, that it is useless to attempt to teach
the adults; and we think our experience here justifies our belief; for if they do not learn quite as quickly as the
children, they make much greater efforts, which very nearly compensates. One woman who could read quite
well, told us she had learnt entirely by watching and listening while the children of the family were being
taught, and questioning them after the lesson was over, never having received an hour's regular instruction until
Miss C. D. Connant, St. Augustine, Florida
1867 date unknown
Mrs. M. M. Williams, who communicates the following interesting letter, went back to St. Augustine this
season with Miss Charlotte J. Smith, a sister of the estimable lady who was our Principal in that quaint and
ancient city last year:
I must apologize to you for not having written to you before this, but our colored friends have been so glad to
welcome me back, and to see a Smith ; here again, although not the veritable genuine Miss Smith ; that
every moment that has not been occupied by school duties has been engaged in visiting.
You will rejoice with me when I tell you that our school opened on Thursday, November 13th, with the most
encouraging success, our roll list already numbering 74 names, and our night school 85 additional, making a
total of 109 scholars, all of whom seem eager and anxious to improve the opportunities held out to them.
Great dissatisfaction is felt with the Catholic schools, and the nuns are said to have tried to inculcate the old
slavery dogmas, which you can imagine are not calmly received. Many of the Catholic children have already
returned to us, and many more will eventually return. One woman told me that her little girl would not go to
the Catholic school in spite of all her efforts. She would go to "Miss Smith's" school, and no
Miss Smith has a place in these people's hearts that never can be filled by any one else, and her name, I fill
sure, will be a household word for many a long year.
I have taken pains to state to the colored friends the low state of your exchequer, and a meeting was
consequently held on Friday evening when every one present pledged their word to furnish $1 each to be put
into the common fund, and applied for the support of the school. It is needless for me to state to you, that the
fact of your having sent "Miss Smith's sister" out without a salary, has been a powerful incentive
to exertion, although I regret that the colored people here are very poor.
We very much need a school-house and the appliances for education which cannot be permanently arranged
in a church. When North, I was promised funds for a school ground, but they are not adequate for the
exorbitant rates now demanded, so, unless some kind friend will step forward and aid us in increasing the
amount, we must wait. Mr. Chase would put up a comfortable building for us, if we could only afford to
purchase the lot. Something can probably be done by holding a fair, but it will be useless to attempt that until
more of the travellers arrive for the winter.
We have graded our schools this year, which will, I think, be a great advantage. Miss Smith takes the
Primary, and I the Intermediate and Normal classes, while we labor conjointly in the night-school.
M. M. Williams
Instructions to Teachers and Applicants - July 20, 1866
Before acting on any application, the Committee on Teachers require information on the following points:
1. The applicant's full name, age, occupation, and whether with or without family responsibilities.
2. Physical Condition. - No person should apply, or be recommended by others, who has a tendency to
pulmonary disease, or who is in any way incapacitated to endure a severe test, both of the mental and
3. Mental Qualifications - As a general rule, those only should be encouraged to apply who have had
experience in teaching, are found of the employment, and have given satisfactory proof of ability.
4. Personal Characteristics - Habits of industry, economy fidelity, patience, and devotion to the work.
The usual compensation of teachers is about $35 per month, teachers boarding themselves.