Sarah Woodson, the youngest child of Thomas and Jemima Woodson, exemplified her family’s commitment to the fields of education and religion. By the age of five, she had memorized large parts of the Bible. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1856 and then began her long career as a teacher in Ohio, North Carolina, and Tennessee. She was one of the first African American women on a college faculty, at Wilberforce University, of which her brother Lewis Woodson was a founding trustee.
In 1868 she married Jordan Winston Early, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church and, as she wrote, assisted “in all of his most arduous duties.” She was national superintendent of the Colored Division of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and lectured widely on temperance, self-improvement, and the role of women. In 1894 she published a biography of her husband.