Holland was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia in 1871 and was named after Annie Wealthy, the mistress of the nearby Wealthy plantation. Holland’s parents divorced, and her mother remarried and moved to Southampton County, Virginia. There, Annie was grew up her younger siblings.
Young Annie helped rear her younger brothers and sisters at a personal cost. Eventually her grandfather, Friday Daughtry a freed slave, invited her to live at her farm so that she could school. His former owner gave him twenty acres of land in Isle of Wight County. There Annie learned how to farm sweet potatoes and peanuts. She also attended school and witnessed African Americans graduate from high schools and colleges and assume teaching posts in African American schools.
Holland graduated from the Isle of Wight County School at age sixteen. She then attended the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute but never finished due to her grandfather’s death. Soon after, Holland moved to New York City and worked as a nurse, dressmaker, and nanny a New York City family. With saved earnings, Holland paid for a second year at Hampton Institute. Illness prevented her from continuing with the same work and class load, so she was unable to enroll for a third year at Hampton. She did later on earn a degree from the Virginia Normal Industrial Institute.
In 1888 she married Willis B. Holland, a teacher and graduate of the Hampton Institute. By age twenty-six Holland became an assistant principal (her husband was principal) in a school ten miles from their Franklin, Virginia home. She briefly left to teach in a rural school but returned in 1905 to rejoin work with her husband. It was at this time that Holland worked to alleviate bad educational conditions. She had observed that many students skipped classes on cold days, for they lacked adequate clothing. So, the educator sent out requests in the community for clothes donations. Boxes of shoes and flannel soon started to arrive.
In October of 1911, Holland joined the Jeanes Fund, which trained teachers in the south and gave funds to African American supervisors of teachers dedicated to vocational training of black students. Holland worked in Gates County, NC as well as Chesapeake and Reynoldson County, Virginia as supervisor of twenty-two schools. Holland’s task as teaching supervisor was to ensure that African American students in Gates County received a sufficient education. By 1914, Holland was one of 118 Jeanes teachers in 119 southern counties.
In 1915 Holland became the State Home Demonstration Agent of North Carolina for the Jeanes Fund a position she held for thirteen years. Holland traveled across the state and held meetings, administered funding events and taught various subjects including cooking and sewing. She traveled and provided aid to nineteen county training schools, ten city schools and three state normal schools. In one month she sometimes visited schools in approximately twenty counties. Holland presided over reading circles and teacher training circles as well as delivering speeches at churches. Holland was effective at being an associate between black teachers, white superintendents, parents and the white community. She excelled at getting all factions to see each others’ views and goals.
Holland was instrumental in founding the first Negro Parent-Teacher State Association held at Shaw University in 1928. In the 1920s, she and Frances Doak of Raleigh. Doak was chair of an advisory committee partnered with the Negro Parent-Teacher Association. They both organized a meeting, which garnered representatives from across the state who represented 770 organizations for a total of over fifteen thousand people. The meeting was effective at organizing ways to foster education by bringing the home and school closer together in order to elevate the education of every child.
Holland died on January 6, 1934 in Louisburg, North Carolina and was buried in Franklin, North Carolina. During a 1938 meeting of the North Carolina Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers, a tree was planted at Shaw University in honor of Hollands work.
Sarah Shaber, "Annie Wealthy Holland." NcPedia.org. N.p., n.d. Web. http://ncpedia.org/biography/holland-annie. (Assessed on July 9, 2012.) and Scotti Cohn, Remarkable North Carolina Women. Guilford: Morris Publishing Company, 2012, 105-115.
By Shane Williams, North Carolina History Project
See Also:Related Categories: Women, Education, African American