08 December 2015

Rosenwald Schools & post Civil War African Americans -- a disappearing legacy that need your support

In 1912, Booker T. Washington approached philanthropist Julius Rosenwald about his concept to build rural schools desperately needed for African American children across the segregated south. That partnership sparked an initiative that eventually created more than 5300 schools, vocational shops and teacher’s homes across 15 states in the South and Southwest from 1912-1932.

Many have already disappeared and those that survive are often dilapidated, in disrepair and soon will be just another part of disappearing history.

Read this brochure to learn more about the initiative and the resulting schools (the map on page 11 gives you a sense of schoolhouse distribution) and the efforts to preserve those buildings still standing.

Earlier this year there was a conference held about the Rosenwald Schools and you can access session videos on YouTube.

Not sure if there was a Rosenwald school where your ancestors lived?  Check out the Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database.  Do note that the database is extensive though not necessarily exhaustive. Fisk University is home to the Julius Rosenwald Fund archives (scroll down to R and you will find several finding aids).

I searched on Leflore County Mississippi and there are 35 Rosenwald Schools listed.

In my research I cam across the following resources.
+ Remember the Rosenwald Schools (The Journal of the American Institute of Architects)
+ New Film Puts the Spotlight on an Early Civil-Rights Donor (The Chronicle of Philanthropy) [corrected to Puts]
+ Trailer for the above Film

Do also check out any resources specific to the state and/or county where your ancestors lived.  For example, the North Carolina state Historic Preservation Office has created a map showing Rosenwald Schools with links to the relevant Fisk database entry as well as the National Register of Historic Places nomination form. There is also a web site dedicated to these schools in NC with lots of neat information. The Past is Prologue has collected info on Rosenwald Schools in Georgia and a Google (TM) search on Rosenwald + state/county of interest will bring up all kinds of interesting information on these schools.

Did your ancestors attend a Rosenwald School?

Have you visited a Rosenwald School?

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