Laura Spelman Rockefeller

Laura Spelman Rockefeller

Laura Celestia Spelman Rockefeller, (September 9, 1839 – March 12, 1915), (known as Cettie), was a philanthropist, the namesake of Spelman College, founded to educate black women in the South, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, and the wife of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. Together they created the Rockefeller family dynasty.



Laura Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio in 1839 to Harvey Buell Spelman and Lucy (Henry) Spelman, Yankees who had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts. Harvey was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church, the Underground Railroad, and in politics. The Spelmans eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In Cleveland, Cettie met John D. Rockefeller; they attended accounting classes together. She later returned to New England to attend Oread Institute, with plans to become a schoolteacher.

After returning to Ohio to teach, Spelman married Rockefeller in 1864. Following her wedding, Cettie remained active in the church (she joined Rockefeller's congregation, the Northern Baptists) and with her family. Once the family business, Standard Oil, began to take off, she further devoted her time to philanthropy and her children.

Throughout their lives, the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity, including substantial donations to Spelman College.

Laura Spelman Rockefeller died at age 75 of a heart attack, at the family estate Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, NY.


Further reading

  • Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. London: Warner Books, 1998.
  • Stasz, Clarice. The Rockefeller Women: Dynasty of Piety, Privacy, and Service. New York: St. Martins Press. (1995).

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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