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Caroline LeCount

2023 Women’s History Month

31 Historical Women from Philly

Caroline Rebecca LeCount was an African-American educator and civil rights figure from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

LeCount is widely known for her early efforts to desegregate public transportation.

LeCount was born in South Philadelphia in 1846 as one of four children. Her father, James LeCount, was a cabinet maker and undertaker who was probably involved in the Underground Railroad, as stories have been passed down about him hiding slaves in coffins.

LeCount began school at a young age and graduated at the top of her five-person class from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1863.

After LeCount passed the teaching exam, being the first Black woman in Philadelphia to do so, she began teaching at the Ohio Street School. She became principal around 1868, making her the second Black female principal in Philadelphia.

She notably defended Black teachers from an accusation of inferiority, pointing out that they were required to receive higher test scores than white teachers to become certified.

LeCount was also an accomplished orator and poetry reader. She read at the openings of various churches and was noted by The Christian Recorder for her ability to imitate an Irish accent when needed.

Along with Jacob C. White Jr. and William Bolivar, LeCount helped sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois with research for his study The Philadelphia Negro.