Theodora G. Oxley
1892 – 1947
At the age of 24, Theodora Oxley became the first African American teacher and principal at Eckstein School, which opened in 1915.
Born in Trinidad, Theodora came from an exceptionally well-educated and accomplished family. Her brother, the Harvard-educated Reverend Edmund H. Oxley, was pastor of St. Andrew’s Protestant Episcopal Church in the West End, and another brother, Leonard, was a doctor.
During the summer of 1916, Theodora, Reverend Oxley, his wife Esther, their two children, and Leonard lived at Eckstein School in exchange for taking care of the building and grounds.
In the fall of 1919, Theodora took a new job in the Cincinnati school system, living on Seventh Street with Reverend Oxley’s family.
By the mid-1920s, she had moved to Pennsylvania, teaching at the Fifth Street School for African American students in Columbia. She also taught at Coatsville and York, PA.
By 1929, Theodora had moved to Harrisburg, living with her sister Helena, also a teacher.
Theodora’s niece Elizabeth was a teacher and principal in the Dayton and Xenia school systems. Another niece, Lucy Orintha Oxley, became the first African American to earn an MD from the University of Cincinnati Medical School, in 1935, and ran her own practice in Walnut Hills.