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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Cornelia Phillips Spencer (1826-1908)

After Reconstruction, Spencer allied herself with a new generation of education reformers to support the North Carolina public schools. Although she opposed coeducation and woman suffrage, she strongly advocated more educational opportunities for women. She was particularly pleased when the university's first summer school for teachers enrolled female students in 1877. Even though her sex prevented her from taking courses or teaching at the university, Spencer wrote hymns for special occasions, organized community events, and kept the alumni records. When new faculty came to Chapel Hill, they visited Spencer to gain her approval.