Collection of Myrtle Catherine Henry consists of a quilt and four pieces of clothing from the late 19th century and early 20th century. The quilt with a flower and leaf pattern was handmade by Myrtle Catherine Henry's paternal grandmother. The blue skirt and jacket set, which is covered with a gold leaf print, is from approximately 1900, and the green and blue plaid “wrapper” dress is from the 1870s. The beige and purple plaid bodice is also estimated to be from circa 1900. The collection was donated to the Anacostia Community Museum by Myrtle Gonza Glasoe, the goddaughter of Myrtle Catherine Henry.
Myrtle Catherine Henry was born on March 30, 1904 to Henson Henry and Rachel Alberta Grice Henry. She was raised in the community of Good Hope in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. After graduating from Dunbar High School in 1921, she continued her education at Howard University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1925 and at University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Masters degree in English Literature and a doctorate in English. Henry taught in the English department at Howard University until she resigned in 1949.
After leaving Howard University, Henry worked with her mother at the Croome Settlement School in Croom, Maryland. The school provided support to young Black women who had family issues or had been involved in delinquent behavior. Henry and her mother used their home in Washington, D.C. as a halfway house for young ladies who had made progress at Croome and were ready to begin work, or attend Howard University. After her mother died and the school closed in 1952, Henry worked to support the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In the 1960s, Henry organized her neighbors to fight the city’s plan which included the taking their homes for the construction of Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights. They fought hard and even confronted the bulldozers when they arrived to start the demolition. Henry held out to the end; she was the last person to leave. Henry died on June 28, 2005.
Myrtle Gonza Glascoe, a social worker, teacher, college professor, and activist, was born in 1936 in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Dunbar High School, she completed degrees at Howard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.
After earning a degree in social work at University of Pennsylvania in 1960, Glascoe worked at the Rosewood State Hospital outside of Baltimore. While in Baltimore, she joined the Baltimore Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1962, she accepted a position working with emotionally disturbed and delinquency prone youth in Los Angeles, California. While in California, she learned of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) support network in San Francisco. When her position in Los Angeles ended, Glascoe spent the summer of 1964 working for the SNCC and choosing people to travel south to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. By the end of the summer, she signed herself up to travel south.
From 1965 to 1967, Glascoe worked for SNCC in West Helena, Arkansas and West Point, Mississippi. During this time, she registered voters, attended community meetings, formed relationships with the communities, and energized people to develop themselves and their communities. Glascoe was also the director of the Freedom School in West Helena and the director of the community program organizers of the Head Start Program in Mississippi. From 1969 to 1972, she taught in the sociology department at Tougaloo College. In 1985, she became the founding director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, South Carolina. She left the Avery Research Center in 1993.
On November 17, 2010, Glascoe was interviewed for the Civil Rights History Project (U.S.), a joint project of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture. The goal of the project is to collect video and audio recordings of personal histories from those who participated in the Civil Rights movement.
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum