Episode 33 – Prudence Crandall
Prudence Crandall purchased an imposing late Georgian-style house in 1831 to serve as a private academy for local young women. When she admitted Sarah Harris, an African American student, Crandall found that parents of white students objected. In April 1833, she opened her house as a boarding school for young African American women, an action which led to harassment by neighbors, passage of a state law against her work and her being jailed for one night. Through two court trials and an appeal to the state’s Supreme Court of Errors, Crandall continued to operate her school. Only after a violent attack on the house on the night of September 9, 1834, did she agree to close the school and send her students home. In the United States during the years leading up to the Civil War, the Crandall incident was one of many that helped solidify attitudes against slavery. Crandall’s effort to provide equal education, however, was a rarity for the times. In 1994, Prudence Crandall was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame and in 1995, Crandall was designated as Connecticut’s State Heroine. The Prudence Crandall House, a National Historic Landmark, is a museum open to the public.