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Sister Aurora Helena Avelar

New Bedford’s Mother Teresa, Sister Aurora Helena Avelar (1903-1999) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to the underserved. Her work extended beyond the classroom to the streets of New Bedford, where she networked for those in need. In 1996, the Sister Aurora Helena Avelar Community Center at Crapo and Thompson Streets was named in her honor.

Martha Bailey Briggs

Born in 1838 to Black abolitionists, Martha Bailey Briggs (1838-1889) realized at a young age that education was essential to ending slavery.

Elizabeth Carter Brooks

Equality was the vision of Elizabeth Carter Brooks (1867-1951) in her work as educator, social activist and architect.

Helen Elizabeth Ellis

What do a tea room in Westport, a bookstore in New Bedford, special exhibits at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and a children’s museum in Dartmouth all have in common?

Sister Rosellen Gallogly

Considered a living saint in New Bedford, Sister Mary Rosellen Gallogly (1930-2018) was a pioneer in developing services for the homeless, notably as director of Market Ministries Meals and Shelter, known today as Sister Rose House.

Marial M. Harper

New Bedford educator Marial Harper (1934-2016) positively impacted numerous lives at New Bedford High School and was the first woman and minority to be appointed a Housemaster there.

Harriet Jacobs

Writer, abolitionist and educator, Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) is the only African American woman known to have left writing documenting her enslavement.

Ellen Kempton

New Bedford’s Ellen Kempton (1840-1865) lost her life while in South Carolina to educate and assist formerly enslaved people.

Mary Hudson Onley

Pioneering educator and community activist Mary Hudson Onley (1889-1980) was one of the first African American graduates of Bridgewater State Normal School in 1912.

Kathleen Comiskey Roberts

Dartmouth educator and author Kathleen Comiskey Roberts wrote a history for children in 1959 so that students could learn about their town.
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