Rosa L. Dixon Bowser (January 7, 1855 — February 7, 1931) was an American educator. She was the first black teacher hired in Richmond, Virginia. She organized the Virginia Teachers’ Reading Circle, which became the Virginia State Teachers Association, the first organization representing black teachers in Virginia, serving as the organization’s president from 1890 to 1892. Bowser was president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Virginia, as well as founder and first president of the Richmond Woman’s League. She was a correspondent for the magazine The Woman’s Era, and wrote essays for national publications. The first branch of the Richmond Public Library to serve African-American patrons was named for Bowser.

Rosa L. Dixon was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the daughter of Henry Dixon and Augusta Anderson Hawkins Dixon; she was “most likely born enslaved”. As a child she moved to post-war Richmond with her parents, and was educated by teachers from the Freedmen’s Bureau. She was identified as a promising student and trained as a teacher at the Richmond Colored Normal School.

Dixon was just seventeen years old when she became the first black teacher hired by the Richmond, Virginia, public schools. She taught in schools from 1872 until 1879, and again in widowhood from 1883 until she retired in 1923. She also taught night classes for young African-American men through the Young Men’s Christian Association. She organized the Virginia Teachers’ Reading Circle, which became the Virginia State Teachers Association, the first organization representing black teachers in Virginia. She served as the organization’s president from 1890 to 1892.

In 1902 Bowser was president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Virginia. She gave lectures at the annual gatherings of the Hampton Negro Conferences, and chaired the Committee on Domestic Science from 1899 to 1902. She raised funds for the Industrial Home School for Colored Girls and the Virginia Manual Labor School for Colored Boys. She was founder and first president of the Richmond Woman’s League. She supported the Virginia Colored Anti-Tuberculosis League in Richmond, and helped to found the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.

She was Virginia correspondent for the magazine Woman’s Era. Bowser wrote essays for national publications, including “What Role is the Educated Negro Woman to Play in the Uplifting of her Race?” (1902), and “The Mother’s Duty to her Adolescent Sons and Daughters” (1902).

In 1925, the first branch of the Richmond Public Library to serve African-American patrons was named for Bowser.

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