SISTER GERTRUDE MORGAN
(1900–1980)

Sister Gertrude Morgan

What would your school be like if all the blackboards disappeared?

What if the bulletin boards and the slide projectors were taken away, too?

Your teacher could still tell you about hurricanes during science class. And, during history period, your friend could still give an oral report about life in a colonial village. But if you couldn't see the things they were talking about, both of these classes might be a little confusing—and a little dull!

With a blackboard, your friend can point out the stores and houses on a map drawn in colored chalk. Then you can easily imagine what spending a day in a colonial village would be like.

With a projector and bulletin board, your teacher can put up newspaper clippings and show slides of recent storms. Looking at them, you understand right away why learning about hurricanes is so important.

Pictures and maps are called visual aids. There are different kinds of visual aids, but they all have the same purpose. They help us connect the words we hear to the pictures we see. They make learning new things less difficult and much more interesting.

Sister Gertrude Morgan wanted to help people learn, too. She believed that it was her job to teach everyone about her religion. To help people learn and remember, she did what any teacher does. She used visual aids! Instead of ordinary blackboards and bulletin boards, Sister Gertrude Morgan used her colorful artwork in her teaching. Sometimes she added lines from songs she wrote, and sometimes she made up poems, or copied parts of the Bible.

Sister Gertrude Morgan grew up in Alabama. She belonged to a religious group that played instruments, danced, and sang during their church services. Later, she moved to New Orleans and opened a small church of her own. She called it the "Everlasting Gospel Mission," and she became a singing minister.

When ministers teach the people in their church, they sometimes give a sort of speech called a sermon. Sister Morgan gave her sermons using her music and her art. "I guess my paintings spread the Word…," she said.

COULD YOU GUESS THAT . . .

…when she was a child, Sister Gertrude Morgan didn't have art supplies? She still wanted to draw, so she used sticks to make designs in the ground.

…she made a record album of her church music? She sang, played the guitar, and did the artwork on the cover, too!

…teaching about her religion wasn't the only way Sister Gertrude Morgan tried to help people? When she first moved to New Orleans, she and some other people built a chapel and opened a community service center to give food and shelter to those who needed it. She did this for twelve years, until a hurricane destroyed the center. (So you see how important learning about hurricanes can be!)

…she painted and drew on anything she happened to have around? Cardboard, styrofoam trays, blocks of wood, lamp shades, picture frames…even her guitar case is decorated!

Sister Gertrude Morgan
Jesus Is My Airplane (detail)