Cover image for The riches of Oseola McCarty
The riches of Oseola McCarty
Coleman, Evelyn, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Morton Gorve, Ill. : Albert Whitman, [1998]

Physical Description:
48 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
A brief biography of Oseola McCarty, a hard-working washer woman who, without a formal education herself, donated a portion of her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi to endow a scholarship fund for needy students.
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.5 1.0 34808.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.4 3 Quiz: 19850.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F349.H36 M383 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



While retired laundress Oseola McCarty has become well known because of her endowment of a one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar scholarship fund to the University of Southern Mississippi, Coleman instead focuses upon the life and faith that made such a gift possible. Illustrated with handsome but appropriately modest block prints, the book, based upon interviews with McCarty, tells of Ola''s growing up in the care of her grandmother and her aunt, who took in laundry from Hattiesburg''s white citizens. While Coleman is honest about the oppressive Jim Crow laws under which Ola (born in 1908) and her family lived, her focus is on the pride the women took in their work. And rather than preach, she details that work ("Ola would tuck the corner of a sheet between the wringer''s two rollers") with a respect that confirms its dignity. While Ola worked, she saved. And saved. And thus the scholarship endowment given upon the occasion of Ola''s retirement at the age of eighty-seven. The account is plainspoken and easy to read; the chapter-book format is appealing. Coleman evokes a world few contemporary children will know and introduces a heroine they will greatly admire. -less 

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-7. The name Oseola McCarty may not be immediately familiar, but many will recall her as the washerwoman who saved money her whole life and then gave the hard-won fortune to the University of Mississippi for scholarships. She wanted others to have the education she had to forgo. Coleman conducted interviews with McCarty, her friends, and family, and this original research shows in the solid text. Coleman traces McCarty's life as a poor child growing up with her grandmother, helping in the family washing business; at the same time, the author concisely and subtly describes race relations in the South. One telling fact: McCarty was pleased when her clientele began to include blacks; it meant they were moving up in society. The book's pinnacle--in which McCarty gives away her money--is underplayed, but that seems to fit in with McCarty's modest lifestyle. Daniel Minter's wonderful woodcuts enliven the text and add depth to the story. An author's note and a double-page spread on creating a savings plan are informative. A good choice for Black History Month. --Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-Oseola McCarty, an 87-year-old African-American laundress who left school in sixth grade, stunned the nation when she donated much of her life's savings (over $150,000) to the University of Southern Mississippi to endow scholarships. This inspiring account of her life unfolds in this clear, colorful narrative. Coleman details the backbreaking work that this woman and her female family members performed each day as they made their own lye soap, washed heavy loads by hand, and pressed them with a flat iron. Never marrying, living a frugal life, and always saving, McCarty wanted to use her money to help others get what she had missed-a good education. When her generosity became known, she was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House. The author tells this story with great respect, incorporating information gathered from interviews with McCarty and people in Hattiesburg who know her. The black-and-white block prints enclosed by clothespin borders convey a feeling of strength and dignity. A worthy addition.-Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.