Biographical / Historical
Joan Countryman is a Quaker, educator, and activist. Throughout her life she has been involved with a variety of education initiatives and Quaker organizations. She is a prolific author of mathematics and autobiographical essays.
Joan Countryman (1940 - ) was born in Philadelphia in 1940, the daughter of Virginia and William Cannady, a Philadelphia school teacher. Joan Countryman married Peter Countryman in 1962, and they had two children, Rachel and Matthew. They got divorced in 1972. She married Edward B. Jakmauh in 1990. She attended Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, and was the first African American student, graduating in 1958. She attended Sarah Lawrence College, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in mathematics and writing. She earned a Masters in Urban Studies from Yale University in 1966 and a social administration degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1967 as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1970 to 1993 she returned to Germantown Friends School, serving as a mathematics teacher and department head and Assistant Head for Academic Planning and Director of Studies. In 1993, she became the head of Lincoln School, a Quaker Girls School in Providence, Rhode Island, where she served until 2005. In 2006, Countryman served as the Interim Head of School of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. She was also the Interim Head of School of the Atlanta Girls’ School from 2007 to 2008. In her retirement, she was a board member in many educational institutions and organizations, such as Haverford College, Kendal Corporation, Xavier High School, and her alma maters Germantown Friends School and Sarah Lawrence College.
William P. Cannady Jr. (1913 - 1991) was born in Durham, North Carolina, the son of William P. Cannady Sr. and Mary E. He graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington, DC in 1929. He received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Howard University in 1933 and a master’s degree in education from Temple University. He also studied at Pennsylvania State University. He was an educator for many years, and was one of the first black senior high school teachers in the Philadelphia School district. He served as a math and electrical shop teacher and baseball coach at Edward Bok Vocational High School, a guidance counselor at Simon Gratz High School, and a vice principal of Benjamin Franklin High School. He also worked as a counselor and administrator in the Philadelphia Adult Evening Schools. He was in charge of the tutorial project that started in the summer of 1962, where college students tutored Philadelphia high school students. In the early 1950s, he became the first black member of Local Union 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers. He was a member of the Germantown Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and was active in numerous civic and social organizations during the more than half a century he lived in Philadelphia. He was on the board of trustees of Germantown Friends School and Westtown School. He was married to Virginia Banks Cannady and they had two daughters, Joan Cannady Countryman and Carole Cannady Marks. He died on October 9, 1991 at the age of 78 from leukemia. [Oxford Public Ledger October 21, 1991]
Virginia Bayton Banks Cannady (1914- 1988) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the first of six children of Cater and Julia Bayton Banks. Virginia grew up in Baltimore and in White Stone, Virginia. When she graduated high school, she was offered a scholarship to Morgan College in Baltimore but was unable to attend because she did not have funds for transportation and expenses. During the 1930s, she worked in Baltimore and New York City. In December 1938, she married William P. Cannady, Jr. and they moved to Philadelphia. In 1944, Virginia and William moved to Germantown. Virginia and William raised two daughters, Joan Cannady Countryman and Carole Cannady Marks. Virginia was active in many civic, education, and social groups in Philadelphia, including the Between-Us Club, the Breakfast Club, the Council on International Visitors (through which she welcomed international visitors into her home), Jack and Jill, the League of Women Voters, Meals on Wheels, the West Mount Airy Neighbors, and the Women’s International League. As a member of Germantown Friends Meeting she served on the Super Committee and the Juvenile Books Selection Committee for the Friends Free Library. She died on June 6, 1988.
Peter Countryman (1942 - 1992) was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was a civil rights activist, community organizer, poet, and painter. Countryman received a bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1965 and a master’s degree from Yale in 1966. During his time as an undergraduate at Yale University, he helped found the Northern Student Movement, an organization created to support the work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the South. In 1969, he spent two months cutting sugar cane in Cuba as a member of the first North American “Venceremos Brigade.” He studied at the London School of Economics in 1967 and 1968 as a Fulbright fellow. He helped found People for Human Rights, a group that demonstrated for social justice. Later, he studied politics at Princeton University. In the early 1970s, Countryman taught at La Salle College, Montgomery County Community College, and the Philadelphia College of Art. After leaving Philadelphia, he worked as a teacher and a mental health counselor in Massachusetts. He was also a painter and poet since the early 1980s.
Matthew Countryman (1963 - ) was the first child of Joan and Peter Countryman. He attended Germantown Friends School, graduating in 1981. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University in 1986, the same year as his younger sister Rachel. During his time at Yale he was involved in activism, particularly in protest of divestment in South Africa. He earned a master’s degree in history from Duke University in 1992, and a Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 1999. He is currently an associate history professor at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. His fields of study include: African-American social movements, 20th-century United States history, Race, postwar liberalism, and the American left, and African-American politics in the post-civil-rights era. He is the author of Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania, 2006) and the winner of the Liberty Legacy Foundation award for the best book in civil rights history, Organization of American Historians, 2006.
Rachel Countryman was the second child of Joan and Peter Countryman. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1986.During her time there, she participated in protests for divestment from South Africa. She received a master’s in education from Harvard University. She was the director of financial aid, assistant director of admissions and a mathematics teacher at Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She was the dean of academic life at Miss Porter’s School, an all girls high school in Farmington, Connecticut. In 1990, Rachel married John Wescott Bracker (Haverford College Class of 1984), son of Dr. and Mrs. Earl Bracker of Concord, Massachusetts. They had two children, Emma (Haverford College Class of 2015) and Mason (Haverford College Class of 2017).