Mary McLeod Bethune
Photos and History

Bethune-Cookman College

Bethune’s Daytona Normal and Industrial School grew over the years, and in 1923 merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, a school for boys. The merger created Bethune-Cookman College (later Bethune-Cookman University), which continues to thrive in Daytona Beach.

Young women at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Young women at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Image number: PR00772

Girls’ chorus at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Girls’ chorus at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Image Number: PR00756

Art class at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Art class at Bethune-Cookman College (1940s)

Image Number: PR00766

Eleanor Roosevelt visits with Mary McLeod Bethune (1937)

Eleanor Roosevelt visits with Mary McLeod Bethune (1937)

Image Number: PR00795

Fight Against Racism

Bethune was active in the struggle for civil rights and served under several U.S. presidents as a member of the unofficial African American “brain trust.” In 1936, she was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the director of the National Youth Administration's Division of Negro Affairs. She also founded the National Council of Negro Women, and was an active member of the National Association of Colored Women. Bethune died in May 1955.

A statue of Bethune was erected in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. In 1985, Bethune was recognized as one of the most influential African-American women in the country with a postage stamp issued in her honor.

Mary McLeod Bethune awarded citation from President Harry S. Truman (1949)

Mary McLeod Bethune awarded citation from President Harry S. Truman (1949)

Image Number: PR00787

Left to right: Harry S. Truman; Mary McLeod Bethune; Madame Vijaya Pandit, India’s ambassador; and Dr. Ralph Bunche of the United Nations. All received the citation for outstanding citizenship from President Truman.

Mary McLeod Bethune visits the White House (ca. 1950)

Mary McLeod Bethune visits the White House (ca. 1950)

Image Number: PR00794

When Mary McLeod Bethune entered the White House, a white guard addressed her as “auntie.” She stopped and asked him in her most earnest tone, “Which one of my brothers’ children are you?”

Bethune family (1948)

Bethune family (1948)

Image number: PR00781

Left to right: Albert M. Bethune, Sr. (son); Albert M. Bethune, Jr. (grandson); Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune; George McLeod (niece?) and her foster son, Edward R. Rodriguez.

Mary McLeod Bethune (early 1950s)

Mary McLeod Bethune (early 1950s)

Image number: PR00793

Mary McLeod Bethune in front of White Hall (1940s)

Mary McLeod Bethune in front of White Hall (1940s)

Image number: PR00797

Mary McLeod Bethune statue in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C. (1940s)

Mary McLeod Bethune statue in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C. (1940s)

Image number: PR00765