November 7, 1877
The future Philander Smith College began as Walden Seminary in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Named for Freedmen’s Bureau activist John Walden and located in the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church at 8th Street and Broadway, it was designed to educate black ministers. The Reverend Thomas Mason, its first president (serving from November 1881 to May 1897), moved the school in 1882 to a new campus at 10th and Center streets. This move was made possible by a public plea for gifts to the school. Responding to an article published in the Christian Advocate in 1882, Adeline Smith of Oak Park, Illinois—the widow of Philander Smith, “a liberal giver to Asiatic Missions”—donated $10,500 to Walden Seminary, which was promptly renamed Philander Smith College.