Meet America Victoria Woodberry, Oglethorpe’s first woman graduate

As National Women’s History Month draws to a close, we take a look at a woman who made history right on our campus.

America Victoria Woodberry, buried Savannah, GA

America Victoria Woodberry, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA

Oglethorpe University’s campus was re-founded in its current location in 1915 and continued to educate classes of all male graduates for several years. But in the spring of 1921, America Victoria Woodberry became the first-ever woman to graduate from the university, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Education at the age of 42.

Originally from Williston, South Carolina, Woodberry first moved to Georgia to teach soldiers at Camp Gordon in Augusta during World War I.

Woodberry Hall School for Girls, 1908

Woodberry Hall School for Girls, 1908

She then moved to Atlanta to teach French at Woodberry Hall School for Girls, which had been founded by her sister, Rosa Woodberry in midtown Atlanta in the early 1900s. Interestingly, Rosa had followed her sister’s trailblazing path, and was the first woman to graduate from the University of Georgia, earning her degree in 1928.

America Woodberry taught at Woodberry Hall for many years until her death at the age of 44, while she was pursuing a master’s degree at Colombia University.

Rosa Woodberry '28

America’s sister Rosa Woodberry

America dedicated most of her life to studying and teaching the French language. Along with gaining proficiency in Spanish, her studies gave her the opportunity to visit England, France, and Italy during her life.

In her obituary, America Woodberry is described as “one of Atlanta’s best-known teachers, and was a leader in literary and civic circles.”

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, no photos of America Woodberry were located.

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