Jennie D. Porter was born in Cincinnati in 1876. Her father was Cincinnati’s first African American undertaker and her mother a schoolteacher. Jennie Porter graduated from Hughes High School in 1893 and like her mother she pursued a career in teaching. She ran a private kindergarten for African American children in the West End for a time and then became a teacher at the Douglass School. After trying to find a temporary school for African American children who were displaced after a flood, she discovered that many did not have one to go to in the first place.