Document Type

Research Paper


Mary Easton Sibley, the founder of Lindenwood University, was an ambitious woman. A supporter of the abolition movement and women's education, she founded and taught in schools for white women and enslaved African Americans in St. Charles, Missouri. As an American woman in the nineteenth century, however, her attitudes toward race and gender proved complex, reflecting the struggle of white women at the time. Drawing on scholarship that examines a shift in the focus of white female abolitionists of the period from freeing enslaved peoples to freeing white Americans from the sin of slavery, This case study poses two unique contributions. First, it locates this shift in Mary Sibley during the 1830s, two decades prior to the dating of the shift in present scholarship. Second, it shows that, whereas previous scholarship also notes a shift away from direct work with enslaved peoples to more detached activism, Mary Sibley conceived of abolition as a project to save white Americans from sin even as she continued to teach enslaved students in the African School in St. Charles. As she did so, recorded fascinating reflections on race and gender in the United States in her diary.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Marcus Smith