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Virginia Randolph was born on June 8, 1874, the child of former slaves.  She loved learning and graduated from school when she was 16 years old.  She went on to become a teacher, and in 1892 she started teaching at the one-room Mountain Road School.  She taught academic subjects along with practical subjects like cooking, sewing, woodworking, and gardening. In the early 1900s, a wealthy Quaker from Philadelphia named Anna Jeanes set up a national program of “Jeanes Teachers.”  Jeanes Teachers would supervise vocational education for African American children so that they could learn job skills.  In 1908 Virginia Randolph became the nation’s first Jeanes Teacher. By 1939 there were over 500 Jeanes Teachers employed in the South and Virginia Randolph would travel throughout the South sharing her ideas with them.  She supervised various schools in Henrico County, including the Coal Pit School.  In 1915 the Virginia Randolph Training Center was built.  However, transportation was not provided, and many African American children from different parts of the county would not have been able to attend.  So Virginia Randolph let students live in her home so they could attend school. The 1930 census listed 14 children living with her, ranging in ages from eleven to nineteen.  Over the years,59 students lived in her home!  The Virginia Randolph Cottage was built in 1937 off of Mountain Road, and Virginia Randolph used it for her office and for home economics classes.  After she died in 1958, she was buried there, and the cottage is now a museum and a National Historic Landmark.

Updated 9/4/2011