Julia B. Nelson with pupil
Julia B. Nelson moved to Minnesota at age 15, and earned a teaching degree at Hamline University. After the Civil War, her infant son and husband died.
Nelson, a 26-year-old widow, decided to resume teaching. She went to Texas and taught at a Freedmen's Bureau school for formerly enslaved people, where she was threatened by some white members of the community.
In 1888, she returned to Minnesota permanently and became a lecturer and organizer for the Women's Christian Temperance Union and women's suffrage. She resumed teaching and fought for equal rights and racial equality for the rest of her life.