College Seal Symbolizes Service

"Our Whole School for Christ"


The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary was renamed Spelman Seminary in April 1884. The first graduates of the Spelman Seminary were Ella N. Barksdale, Clara Howard, Lou E. Mitchell, Adeline J. Smith, Sallie B. Waugh, and Ella L. Williams. On September 22, 1924, Spelman Seminary became Spelman College, now the oldest and largest historically black college for women in the world. However, through a collaborative arrangement between Spelman Seminary and the Atlanta Baptist Seminary (now Morehouse College), Claudia White and Jane Anna Granderson became the first college graduates in 1901.

Under the College's motto, "Our Whole School for Christ," each prepared leader was encouraged to adopt values grounded in Christian teachings. The star of service was the center and soul of the institutional seal. The star was surrounded by the triangle of life which represented areas that integrated one's life - the intellectual, spiritual and industrial. The students' daily lives were immersed in a regimented environment rooted in a strong work ethic but never a prayer away from its spiritual founding. Inspirational experiences such as Vespers or motivational speakers were paired with practical teachings to help students to be well-rounded citizens.

Throughout the century, there had been changes in the daily lives of the students. However, Spelman has not strayed away from the founding principles that were the hallmark of the institution - to develop prepared leaders who followed a spiritual roadmap or, in more simple terms, "inspired leaders." Through examples of collaborative efforts, the development of Spelman College and the National Alumnae Association of the Spelman College are inextricably intertwined. The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC) was not born in 1976 as the articles of incorporation suggests.

The Alumnae Association began on May 19, 1892, with the encouragement of President Harriet Giles and Dean Lucy Upton. Alumnae history began with the notion that Negro women could be the object and sole beneficiaries of a liberal arts education that included the study of Greek mythology as well as domestic skills or practical skills such as printing. This was certainly central and in keeping with a broader debate in education circles. But the "useful lives" alluded to in writings by the founders was very much in keeping with an African proverb, "Teach a woman, and you teach a nation."

To move from the education of individual women to an organization of women poised for action and pointed in a common direction was merely the next phase of the evolution of alumnae leadership. It was the seed of collaborative leadership. The alumnae association was a unique model of women's leadership and Negro leadership. Race and gender represented a unit through which such women's organizations could exemplify the strengths of both. The alumnae association could be allowed to manifest itself by drawing on the best of both attributes.