Neya Alper, Reagan Bradshaw
Though there has been a load of coverage about the story behind T.C. Williams and the segregationist superintendent it is named after, there has been little coverage of Minnie Howard, the woman who the freshman campus of T.C. Williams is named after. So who was Minnie Howard, and why is she so important to Alexandria’s history?
- She founded several organizations intended to benefit the children of Alexandria.
Howard founded and was the first to preside over the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in 1912, starting her career as a woman dedicated to the youth of the city. Howard also founded the first children’s home in Alexandria.
- She was the first probation officer in Alexandria City.
That’s right. Howard was the city’s first probation officer, according to her biography page on the ACPS website. Her obituary in the Alexandria Gazette specified that she was the first juvenile probation officer. Despite the discrepancy, she did serve as a probation officer and also worked closely with the juvenile justice system in Alexandria.
- She lived on South Washington Street.
A resident of the south side of Old Town, she lived right next to the Lyceum, Alexandria’s history museum built in 1839, originally a hospital during the Civil War. The house is no longer there, torn down between the 1960s and ’70s to make room for a parking lot for the museum, according to satellite imagery from that time.
- Her gravestone is in Ivy Hill Cemetery.
Howard, who died of an illness on April 6, 1950 at age 81, had her body displayed at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home (right up the street from the T.C. Williams campus) before her funeral, and the rites were conducted by the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Her gravestone in Ivy Hill Cemetery is shared with her husband.
- She helped build playgrounds in the city.
In addition to serving the city’s youth, Howard built several playgrounds around the city as the founder of Alexandria’s playground association. She also helped to establish and build the first public playground at Washington Street Elementary School.
- She helped fund playgrounds in unique ways.
After the first playground was built, Howard would sell miniature cherries every President’s Day to fund the building of more playgrounds.
- She had eight kids.
Howard had eight children, one of which was stillborn. The stillborn infant was buried in an unmarked grave in Bethel Cemetery in Alexandria. At her time of death, she was survived by five sons and two daughters; the gender of the baby was unknown. Two of her sons were stockbrokers in Washington, D.C. The others worked in Alexandria; one was a lawyer, one was a grocer, and one was employed at an automobile parts store.
- Minnie isn’t actually short for anything.
In some cases, ‘Minnie’ can be a nickname for Mary, Margaret, or Minerva, but that isn’t true in the case of Minnie Howard. Her full name was Mrs. Minnie Stansbury Howard. Another fun piece of trivia? Her husband’s name was T. Clifton Howard, meaning his initials were T. C.! What are the odds?