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Historically Black Presbyterian Schools

This guide provides an overview to the Presbyterian Historical Society's holdings that document historically Black schools and colleges established or supported by the Presbyterian Church.
Introduction

Presbyterian Historical Society collections document the educational work Presbyterians undertook among freedmen after the Civil War and the African American schools founded and supported by Presbyterian pastors and leaders. Several of these schools continue to flourish either as fully independent institutions or through affiliations with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Others succumbed to financial challenges or diminished enrollment in the second half of the twentieth century. Included in the PHS archives are records of the following historically Black colleges and universities: Barber-Scotia College, Biddle University/Johnson C. Smith University, Harbison College, Knoxville College, Lincoln University, Mary Allen Junior College, Mary Holmes College, Stillman College, and Swift Memorial College.

All of these institutions, starting with Lincoln University—the first historically Black college in the United States, sought to provide high-quality education to African Americans and train leaders who would carry on that mission in the wider society. Many of these educational institutions aimed to open access to educational opportunities for African American students regardless of socioeconomic standing. Most started by offering secondary schooling as a way to address barriers to education faced by African American youth.

The records documenting historically Black schools at the Presbyterian Historical Society can be found within the larger processed collections of the agencies that oversaw the schools: the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Missions for Freedmen, the PCUSA Board of National Missions and its Unit of Work with Colored People, and the PCUSA College Board. 

PHS holds collections that are not available at other institutions, primarily of the historically Black schools that no longer exist. Their stories of struggle and triumph educating African American men and women for leadership in the midst of racist structures and culture underscore the historical weight of the mission and accomplishments of all historically Black schools and the significance of continued support for those currently educating new generations of leaders. In addition, PHS holds unique records for the following institutions—Barber-Scotia, Johnson C. Smith, Lincoln, and Stillman—that complement the archival holdings of those colleges and universities.

PHS holds records documenting other smaller Black schools and academies and academies founded by Presbyterians and run by the Board of Missions for Freedmen and its successor agencies. These schools were not colleges, but many of their faculty had ties to Presbyterian HBCUs, and the schools helped prepare future students of HBCUs.

Note about student records:

PHS serves as the repository for student records from Mary Holmes College (1936-2003) and the Boggs Academy (1950-2008). Former students and alumni of these schools may request official transcripts from the society. We also hold select student records from other schools described in this subject guide, including: Gillespie-Selden, School of Practical Nursing, 1955-1967, in RG 301.8; and Swift Memorial Junior College, 1930-1960, in 06 0222 34F

Note about language:

The language used in collection titles and descriptions reflects the conventions used by the original creators of materials or the archivists who described collections when they were brought into the holdings of PHS. 

The staff of PHS is committed to redressing the bias present in its legacy colleciton descriptions. This is an ongoing effort, guided by standards being developed in the field of library and archives, such as those presented in the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia's "Anti-Racist Description Resources." You can read about PHS's efforts to address the legacy of outdated and offensive language in our collection descriptions on the PHS blog.

Call for donations:

As part of our effort to do a better job collecting the history of Black Presbyterians and institutions, we invite people who hold records related to the schools described in this guide to contact us about donating materials to PHS. Please see the Personal and Family Papers page for more information.

School Records

Listed here are schools that are relatively well documented in the PHS archives. To search for additional records, please see the Collections page on our website or contact the reference staff at refdesk@history.pcusa.org.

Barber-Scotia College (Concord, N.C.)
Scotia College (Concord, N.C.)
Margaret Barber Seminary/Barber Memorial College (Anniston, Ala.)

Scotia College was founded in 1867 as a seminary for girls in Concord, North Carolina, by Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Luke Dorland. It was the first school for African American women run by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and it had the specific goal of training women as school teachers. A four-year college curriculum was instituted in 1916. In 1930, the college department of Barber Memorial College (Anniston, Ala.) merged with Scotia to form Barber-Scotia College. Dr. Leland Stanford Cozart, a graduate of Biddle University, led Barber-Scotia from 1932 to 1964, a period of rapid expansion and change that solidified the higher education curriculum at the school.

Barber Memorial College had been founded in 1896 in Anniston, Alabama, by Margaret Marr Barber and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA) Board of Missions for Freedmen. Initially a girls’ boarding school, the focus shifted to teacher training in the 1920s, and a college department was added in 1924. It was this college department that merged with Scotia College in 1930. Barber-Scotia continues as a four-year college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Barber-Scotia Junior College) histories, skit, circular letters, 1931-1936 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 27)
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records: (Margaret Barber Seminary) publicity material, 1932 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 44)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • Barber Memorial Seminary, motion picture, 1 film reel (5 min.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm. (Call number: MOTIONPIC A10)
  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: Margaret Barber Seminary buildings, 1 image of home economics class, 1939-1940 (Call number: RG 303, Box 1, Folders 2-3)
  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: Barber-Scotia College, students, classroom scenes, buildings, 1928-1960s (Call number: RG 303, Box 6, Folders 97-104)
  • Print File Photographs: Barber-Scotia College, buildings, church  activities, faculty, classroom scenes, 1950s-1960s (Call number Print File 261, 7 folders)
  • Print File Photographs: Barber Memorial Seminary buildings (2 images), 1898 and undated (Call number: Print File 185, 1 folder)

Publications

  • Barber-Scotia college pamphlets; Barber-Scotia Index, April 13, 1935 and May 1936; clippings (Call number: PAMFOL LC 2851 .B27 D3)
  • Excerpt from Barber Memorial Seminary annual report, May 1896 (Call number: PAMFOL LC 2853 .B37 D3)
  • Barber Memorial Seminary Catalogs, 1897-1898, 1919-1920 (Call number: PAM LC 2853 .B37 A1 1897; PAM LC 2853 .B37 A1 1919)
  • O'Brien, Patrick "Lois Irwin, Barber College and Christian Altruism in Alabama, 1926-1927." Journal of Presbyterian History, Vol. 62, No. 4 (WINTER 1984)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Boggs Academy (Keysville, Ga.)

Rev. John Lawrence Phelps founded Boggs Academy in 1906 in Keysville, deep in the “Black Belt” of Georgia. The school was named for Virginia P. Boggs, secretary of the PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen and a benefactor of the school. In the 1910s, shop work and agricultural studies were added to the curriculum. Rev. Phelps retired in 1936, and he was succeeded by Rev. Charles W. Francis, a graduate of Biddle University, and Harold N. Stinson, who attended Mary Allen Junior College and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University. Dr. Stinson resigned in1968 to become head of Stillman College. Boggs Academy closed in 1984. PHS serves as the repository for student records from Boggs Academy (1950-2008). Former students and alumni may request official transcripts from the society.

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Boggs Academy) publicity material, circular letters, 1933 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 28)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: students, classroom scenes, buildings, 1950s-1960s (Call number: RG 303, Box 4, Folders 81-87)
  • “Shirley Goes to Boggs,” slide set, 1936, includes 30 glass slides and one 31-page script: “The story of Shirley, who attends Boggs Academy, a National Missions school near Keysville, Ga. for black children (kindergarten through high school).” (Call number: Slides A10, 1-30)
  • "Seven Years Old and Going to Boggs," motion picture, 1937, 1 film reel (15 min.) : si., col. ; 16 mm. (Call number: MOTIONPIC A104)
  • Print File Photographs: students, faculty, buildings, classroom scenes, choir, library, dining room, sports and other student activities, 1950s-1960s (Call number: Print File 89, 27 folders)

Publications

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Brainerd Institute (Chester, S.C.)

In 1868, Rev. Samuel Loomis helped organize a school in Chester, South Carolina, named in honor of missionary David Brainerd. The school developed from the educational efforts of two Northern missionaries sent south to educate former slaves on the Brawley plantation. In 1878, Brainerd was the only school in a four-county area open to African Americans above the primary level, and the Institute strove to fill this intermediate level of education for future teachers, ministers, and others wanting to pursue a college degree. The Institute expanded rapidly through the 1920s with Johnson C. Smith professor J.D. Martin, Sr. taking the helm in 1928 to lead an all-Black faculty. Financial difficulties led to the closing of the school in 1939.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Brainerd Institute) correspondence, testimonials from students, 1931-1935 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 30)

Audio-Visual collections

  • Support Agency Photographs: students, 1931 (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folder 93)

Publications

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.

Coulter Memorial Academy (Cheraw, S.C.)

The school began as a parochial school in the early 1880s, assisted by a theological student from Biddle working as a colporteur for the Board of Missions for Freedmen. In 1909, the PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen took over the school and named it Coulter Memorial Academy after benefactor Caroline E. Coulter. Dr. George Waldo Long, a graduate of Biddle University, led the academy from 1908 until 1943. Public school authorities assumed responsibility for the school in 1949.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Coulter Memorial Academy) articles, publicity material, correspondence, 1930-1933 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 31)

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: classroom scenes, buildings, 1930-1940 (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folder 94)
  • Print File Photographs: students, buildings, sports, 1930s-1950s (Call number: Print File 96, 2 folders)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.


Gillespie-Selden Institute (Cordele, Ga.)
Selden Institute (Brunswick, Ga.)

Carrie E. Bemus founded Selden Institute (then called The Normal School) in Brunswick, Georgia in 1903. In 1914, the school came under the purview of the PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen and was renamed for the Selden Family, early benefactors of the school. In 1933, Selden closed the Brunswick location and reopened as part of Gillespie-Selden Institute in Cordele, Georgia. Rev. A.S. Clark had organized Gillespie Institute in Cordele in 1902. A hospital department with nurses training began in 1925. In the mid-1950s, public schools and hospitals took over the educational functions of the school.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Nannie J. Gillespie-Selden Normal and Industrial School) circular letters, reports, early 1930s (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 51)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: students (including nurses), classroom scenes, buildings, 1900s-1958 (Call number: RG 303, Box 4, Folders 74-80)
  • Print File Photographs: students, buildings, classroom scenes including nurses training and hospital scenes, 1930s-1960s (Call number: Print File 193, 24 folders)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Harbison College (Irmo, S.C.)

Rev. and Mrs. Emory Williams first organized Harbison in Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1885 as the co-educational Ferguson Academy. In 1901, the school was renamed Harbison College after benefactor Samuel P. Harbison of Pittsburgh. In 1907, Biddle graduate, Rev. Calvin M. Young, became president, and he started a choir and a ministerial club that funneled students to Biddle and Lincoln for theological training. However, in 1910, an unknown person bombed the school, resulting in a fire that killed three students and destroyed the main building and the boys’ dormitory. After the bombing, the Board of Missions for Freedmen decided to rebuild the school in Irmo as an Agricultural College for men. Harbison sold tracts of land around its site, hoping to encourage the growth of an African American Presbyterian community in the vicinity. In 1933, the school became co-educational again with an expanded curriculum. After rebuilding from three additional fires—one of suspicious origin—in 1941, 1952, and 1953, the Board of National Missions voted to close the school in August 1958 due to low enrollment and accreditation issues.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Harbison Institute) publicity material, circular letters, 1932-1937 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 35)

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: students, classroom scenes, buildings, 1925-1949 (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folders 99-101)
  • Print File Photographs: buildings, students, 1950s-1960s (Call number: Print File 101 and Print File 102, 6 folders)
  • Audio Cassette: Interview of DeGrandval Burke by Gerald W. Gillette, April 1985 (Call number: CASSETTE 1106)

Publications

  • Harbison College: African American Education in the Segregated South. The Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 94, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2016), pp. 29-35 (7 pages)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C.)
Biddle University (Charlotte, N.C.)

Three Presbyterian pastors helped organize the Freedmen’s College of North Carolina in 1867 to train African American preachers and teachers in the South, a location more convenient for many freed slaves than Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University) in Pennsylvania. The school was renamed Biddle Institute to honor the husband of one of its early benefactors, Mrs. Henry J. Biddle of Philadelphia, and the curriculum was modeled after that offered at Princeton. In 1886, George E. Davis, a graduate of Biddle, became the school’s first African American professor, and he shaped the curriculum as academic dean from 1906 to 1921. In 1891, Rev. Daniel J. Sanders, a former slave who attended Brainerd Institute, a Presbyterian school in Chester, South Carolina, became the school’s first African American president. Biddle graduates, Rev. Henry Lawrence McCrorey, Dr. Hardy Liston, and Dr. Rufus Patterson Perry, later served as president. In the 1920s, Mrs. Johnson C. Smith of Pittsburgh made sizeable donations to the university, and to honor her gifts, the trustees changed the name of the institution to Johnson C. Smith University in 1923.  A notable alumnus of the university is Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Johnson C. Smith continues as a private liberal arts university related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. College Board Records: (Biddle) correspondence, statistical reports, 1883-1922 (Call number: RG 32, Box 4, Folders 4-5)
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. College Board Records: (Johnson C. Smith) correspondence, 1923-1938 (Call number: RG 32, Box 26, Folders 18-19)
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Johnson C. Smith University, formerly Biddle Institute) correspondence, histories, publicity material, 1931-1936 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 40)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs:  (Biddle): buildings, ca. 1890s (Call number: RG 303, Box 6, Folder 96)
  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs:  (Biddle and Johnson C. Smith): buildings, students, ca. 1900 (Call number: RG 303, Box 14, Folders 7-10)
  • Print File Photographs: Johnson C. Smith University, buildings, students, classes, choir, undated (Call number: Print File 182, 5 folders)
  • View a list of audio recordings here.

Publications

  • Parker, Inez Moore. The Biddle-Johnson C. Smith University story. Charlotte, N.C.: Charlotte Pub., 1975. (Call number: FOLIO LD 2645 .P37 1975)
  • J.C.S.U. alumni journal, 1928. Charlotte: the University, 1928. (Call number: PAM LC 2851 .J68 A4 1928)
  • Henry Arthur George, compiler. Down through the years : some personalities connected with the establishment and growth of Biddle University, now Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte, N.C.: Johnson C. Smith University, 1961. (Call number: PAM LC 2851 .J68 D68 1961)
  • Black Presbyteriana. Selected Bachelor of Divinity theses prepared for the Faculty of Johnson C. Smith University Theological Seminary [1948-1955], on microfilm, one reel. (Call number: MF13 B561sta)
  • View a list of additional publications here.

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Knoxville College (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Founded in 1875 by the Board of Freedmen's Missions of the UPCNA. For its first year it occupied the Long School House, formerly used by the Creswell School, which was also supported by the Board, but which had closed in 1869. Rev. j.P. Wright was elected the college's first principal, and the school dedicated a new brick building in 1876.  Originally a normal school for teachers with a department of elementary education, Knoxville was designated a college in 1877, offering courses in science, theology, and classics. The school's campus, teaching staff, and available courses of study grew during the administration of its first president, Rev. John Schouller McCulloch (1877 to 1899) and that of Dr. R.W. McGranahan (1899-1918). The college featured a normal school, an academy (high school), and departments of domestic arts, industrial and mechanical arts, and agriculture. Dr. McGranahan was succeeded as president by Dr. J. Kelly Giffen, who served until 1935. By the end of this period, the college had added a music department, and had elminated its agricultural, industrial, and mechanical departments, and by the end of Dr. Giffen's tenure, the college was primarly a liberal arts institution. Dr. James A. Colston became the first Black president of Knoxville College in 1940. He was succeeded by Dr. William Lloyd Imes, former pastor of the St. James Presbyterian Church of New York City. In 1951, Dr. James A. Colson became the college's third Black president. During the 1950s, the school saw an increase in enrollment and a restoration and expansion of its physical plant. 

Archival collections

  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: buildings, classes, students, faculty, student activities, 1940s-1960s (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folders 118-119; Box 8, Folders 1-13)

Publications

  • Historical sketch of the freedmen's missions of the United Presbyterian Church, 1862-1904. [Knoxville, Tennessee] : Printing Department, Knoxville College, 1904. (Call number: BV 2783 .H57 1904)
  • Presenting Knoxville College. Knoxville, Tenn.: The Keith Press, 1940. (Call number: PAMFOL LC 2851 .K663)

Digital collections

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Lincoln University (Oxford, Pa.)
Ashmun Institute (Oxford, Pa.)

In 1853, the Presbytery of New Castle approved Rev. John Miller Dickey’s plan to establish in southeastern Pennsylvania “an institution to be called Ashmun Institute, for the scientific, classical and theological education of colored youth of the male sex.” The school was renamed Lincoln University in 1866, and Rev. Dickey led the expansion to a four-year college curriculum. In 1953, the university became co-educational. Lincoln alumni include Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall. Lincoln continues as a private liberal arts university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in a number of fields.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. College Board Records: correspondence, statistical reports, photograph, 1906-1938 (Call number: RG 32, Box 17, Folders 2-4)
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Lincoln University) press release, 1935 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 43)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: 4 student portraits, 1873 and 1879 (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folder 88)
  • Print File Photographs: Ashmun Institute building (1 image), undated (Call number: Print File 283)
  • Print File Photographs: Lincoln University buildings, undated (Call number: Print File 71, 2 folders)

Publications

  • Bond, Horace Mann. Education for freedom: a history of Lincoln University, Pa. [Lincoln University, PA] : Lincoln University, 1976. (Call number: LC 2851 .L53 B66 1976)
  • Murray, Andrew E. The Founding of Lincoln University. Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 51, No. 4, Black Presbyterians in Ministry (WINTER 1973), pp. 392-410 (19 pages)
  • View a list of additional publications here.

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Mary Allen Junior College (Crockett, Tex.)

As part of his mission to freedmen, Rev. S.F. Tenney started a parochial school in Crockett, Texas in 1880. The PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen officially took over the school in 1886, and it became a boarding school for girls named after Mary E. Allen, an early advocate of the institution. Like Scotia Seminary in North Carolina, Mary Allen Seminary modeled its curriculum after New England finishing schools and was often referred to as the “Mt. Holyoke of the southwest for Negro girls.” In the 1920s, the school added a junior college curriculum under new president, Rev. Byrd Randall Smith, a graduate of Biddle University. In 1933, it became co-educational. Plans to turn the college into a four-year state institution were stymied by World War II, and the Board voted to close the school at the end of the 1942/1943 school year. In 1944, the school reopened as Mary Allen Baptist College, which operated until 1972.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Mary Allen Junior College) newsletters, brochures, circular letters, publicity material, 1930-1943 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 45)

Audio-Visual collections

  • Print File Photographs: 2 images of buildings, circa 1900 (Call number: Print File 183)

Publications

  • A sketch of the life and work of Mrs. Mary E. Allen. Philadelphia: Henry B. Ashmead, 1886. (Call number: PAM BR 1714 .A44 S43 1886)
  • Ledé, Naomi W. Mary Allen College : its rich history, pioneering spirit, and continuing tradition. Houston, Tex.: Texas Southern University Press, 1995. (Call number: PAM LC 2851.M36 L43 1995)
  • View a list of additional publications here.
     

Mary Holmes College (West Point, Miss.)
Mary Holmes Seminary (Jackson, Miss.)

The PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen organized Mary Holmes Seminary for girls in Jackson, Mississippi in 1892, marking the first foray of the Board into Mississippi. African Americans donated the land for the original school site. After a fire in 1895, the school relocated to West Point, Mississippi and reopened in 1897. Male students began attending as day students in 1935. In 1941, the name changed to Mary Holmes Junior College and in 1969, to Mary Holmes College. The school closed in 2005. PHS serves as the repository for student records from Mary Holmes College (1936-2003). Former students and alumni may request official transcripts from the society.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Mary Holmes Seminary) correspondence, publicity materials, circular letters, 1935 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 46)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: students, classroom scenes, buildings, 1890s-1972 (Call number: RG 303, Box 5, Folders 56-65)
  • Print File Photographs: classroom scenes, buildings, faculty, student activities, 1950s-1960s (Call number: Print File 181, 6 folders)
  • “Mary Holmes Seminary Destroyed by Fire,” motion picture, 1939, 1 film reel (10 min.) : si., b&w ; 16 mm (Call number: MOTIONPIC A131)
  • “A Forgotten Dream,” motion picture, West Point, Miss. : Mary Holmes Junior College, 1973, 1 film reel (ca. 22 min.) : sd., col. ; 16 mm (Call number: MOTIONPIC A139)

Publications

  • Catalogs, 1897/2003, 58 vols (Call number: 07 0913 34C)
  • Yearbooks, 1961/1999, 26 vols (Call number: 07 0913 34C)
  • The Mirror (newsletter), 1950, 1956, 1961-1980, 1989, 1994 (Call number: 07 0913 34C)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Mary Potter-Redstone-Albion Academy (Oxford, N.C.)
Albion Academy (Franklinton, N.C.)
Redstone Academy (Lumberton, N.C.)
Mary Potter School (Oxford, N.C.)


Albion Academy was started as a parochial school in December 1865 by J.H. Crawford, an African American who fought in the Civil War. In 1867, the PCUSA Committee on Missions for Freedmen threw its support behind the school. In 1933, Albion merged with Redstone Academy and Mary Potter School. Rev. John H. Hayswood had started Redstone (called Bethany School at the time) in Lumberton, North Carolina, in 1903. The PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedmen supervised the school until 1912 when it was taken over by the Presbytery of Redstone. In 1933, when Redstone Academy merged into the Mary Potter School in Oxford, the city of Lumberton continued to use the property as Redstone High School. The Mary Potter School began as a small parochial school run by seminarian George Clayton Shaw. It was named after Mary Potter of Schenectady, New York, a benefactor of the school and a leader of the Freedman’s Board of the New York Synodical Society. Mary Potter-Redstone-Albion Academy was sold to the city of Oxford in 1953.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. College Board Records: (Albion Academy) correspondence, broadsides, 1884-1891 (Call number: RG 32, Box 2, Folder 13)
  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Mary Potter-Redstone-Albion Academy) correspondence, histories, publicity material, circular letters, 1931-1934 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 47)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs: Mary Potter Memorial School, 1946 (Call number: RG 303, Box 7, Folder 29)
  • Print File Photographs: Mary Potter, buildings, classroom scenes, 1900s-1950s (Call number: Print File 194, 2 folders)

Publications

  • Davis, Owena Hunter. A history of Mary Potter School, Oxford, North Carolina. Oxford, N.C.: [s.n.], 1944. (Call number: LC 2852.O95 H57 1944)
  • The Mary Potter bulletin: official publication of Mary Potter-Redstone-Albion Academy. Oxford, N.C. : [the School], May 1935. (Call number: PAMFOL LC 2582 .O9 M37 1935)
  • Parker, Inez Moore. Photocopy of Historical sketch of Albion Academy, Franklin, North Carolina. Publisher not identified, undated. (Call number: PAMFOL LC 2852.F7 A5)

Digital collections

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Stillman Institute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)

Organized in 1876 by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) as the Institute for the Training of Colored Ministers, the Tuscaloosa school had as its objective "to educate colored candidates for the ministry, with a view to the organization and building up of an African Presbyterian Church."  The school was renamed Stillman Institute in 1895. The junior college program was accredited in 1937, and four-year degrees were offered beginning in 1949. Stillman College continues as a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “whose Reformed tradition and commitment to the cultivation of the mind correspond well with the mission of the College.”

Archival collections

  • Stillman Institute Records, 1877-1978, 2 boxes, about 1000 pages : includes minutes and printed annual reports of the Executive Committee, 1877-1891; minutes and printed annual reports of the Board of Directors, 1891-1893; register of students, 1893-1897; The Stillmanite (v. 1, no. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8), 1932-1933; various printed brochures and catalogs, 1930s. (Call number: 142222 91B)
  • Oscar Bickley Wilson Papers, 1896-1900, 1 vol., 132 pages . Rev. Oscar Bickley Wilson was a Presbyterian minister and instructor at Stillman Institute, 1895-1900. Collection consists of a diary, 1896-1900, which provides a daily account of Wilson's life in Alabama where he promoted the work of Stillman Institute. (Call number: 06 0615b, SPP 95)
  • James George Snedecor Papers, 1895-1935, 3 boxes, about 1500 pages : Rev. Snedecor was director of Stillman Institute and secretary of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Committee of Colored Evangelization. Collection includes two notebooks, 1904, 1908, of sermons, speeches, and notes recorded while Snedecor was speaking on behalf of the Committee on Colored Evangelization and Stillman Institute; correspondence, 1904-1935; memorials, 1895-1899; and clippings, 1907-1912. (Call number: 46896 127G)
  • View a list of unprocessed collections here.

Vertical files

Audio-Visual collections

Publications

  • Abernathy, Barrett. A New Vision: Charles Stillman's Motivations to Create the Tuscaloosa Institute for Colored Ministers. The Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 90, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2012), pp. 72-82 (11 pages)
  • Terry, Paul W., editor. A study of Stillman Institute : a Junior College for Negroes, conducted by the Bureau of Educational Research, College of Education, University of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 1946. (Call number: LC 2852.T8652 A6 1946)
  • Lockett, James D. A historical portrait of the leaders and missionaries of Stillman College and the Southern Presbyterian Church. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: History Dept., Stillman College, 2005. (Call number: LC 2851.S69 L65 2005)

Digital collections

  • View digitized content in Pearl.
     

Swift Memorial College (Rogersville, Tenn.)

Rev. William H. Franklin, an African American and graduate of the Presbyterian-affiliated Maryville College, fulfilled his commission from the PCUSA Board of Missions for Freedman by establishing a school in Rogersville, Tennessee in 1883. The school was named Swift Memorial Institute to honor Rev. Elijah Swift, the longtime head of Freedmen’s work for the denomination. When the Tennessee state legislature passed a law in 1901 barring the instruction of black and white students at the same institution, Maryville College responded by diverting some of its funding to enhance Swift. The name changed to Swift Memorial College in 1904 and Swift Memorial Junior College in 1929. The Board closed the school in 1955 and sold the property a year later to the Rogersville Board of Education. After the school closed, the registrar's office at Mary Holmes College (West Point, Miss.) agreed to administer the Swift Memorial transcripts.

Archival collections

  • Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, Series V: (Swift Memorial Junior School) circular letters, publicity material, 1932 (Call number: RG 301.10, Box 1, Folder 54)
  • Swift Memorial Junior College Records: transcripts, 1930-1960; catalogs 1931-1949, 1951, 1954 (Call number: 06 0222 34F)

Audio-Visual collections

  • United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs:: buildings, ca. 1940s (Call number: RG 303, Box 8, Folder 23)
  • Print File Photographs: buildings, classroom scenes, 1950s-1960s (Call number: Print File 106)

Publications

National Agency Records

Listed here are the society's major archival holdings documenting Presbyterian work with historically Black schools. To search for additional records, please see the Collections page on our website or contact the reference staff at refdesk@history.pcusa.org.

Board of Missions for Freedmen / Unit of Work with Colored People

At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the General Assembly (PCUSA-Old School) appointed a committee to establish churches and schools for Freedmen. In 1870, this committee merged with the Freedmen's Department of the New School Board of Home Missions to form the Committee of Missions for Freedmen. In 1883, the Freedmen's Committee was formally incorporated as the Board of Missions for Freedmen. The new board, like its predecessors, helped to educate and supply Black teachers and preachers. It built and supported Black schools, churches, colleges and seminaries and prescribed courses of study to be used. This work was carried out in the southern United States. In 1923, the Freedmen's Board was one of several boards and agencies which merged to become the Board of National Missions. Two units of the new board--the Unit of Schools and Hospitals and the Unit of Work for Colored People (later called the Unit of Work with Colored People)--took on the projects and responsibilities of the Freedmen's Board. However, the Freedmen's Board continued its legal existence as a holding corporation until 1972, when the Board of National Missions was reorganized as the Program Agency.

United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Missions for Freedmen Records, 1864-1972, bulk 1865-1938

  • Series II: Annual reports, 1886-1889
  • Series IV: Minutes, 1864-1956

Call number: RG 376
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Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Unit of Work with Colored People Records, 1924-1945

  • Series i: Reports, 1924-1938
  • Series II: Manuscripts/Publications, 1934-1945
  • Series III: Articles, Scripts, Lectures, 1926-1938
  • Series IV: Educational Materials, 1927-1942
  • Series V: Schools, 1927-1943
  • Series VI: Photographs

Call number: RG 301.10
Collection available on microfilm (MFPOS 1171, reels 1-2). See inventory in collection guide for reel contents. To request microfilm through interlibrary loan, consult the reference staff at refdesk@history.pcusa.org

Board of National Missions Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

The Woman's Executive Committee was organized in 1878 and administered and supported mission schools in cooperation with the Board of Home Missions. In 1885 the Woman's Executive Committee assumed responsibility for the school work of the Board of Missions for Freedmen. In 1897 the Woman's Executive Committee was renamed the Woman's Board of Home Missions, and in 1923 the WBHM turned its work over to the new Board of National Missions. Under the Board of National Missions the administration of the educational and medical work continued under the leadership of women administrators until 1960. For a more detailed history of the agency departments and administrators responsible for overseeing educational and medical work, see the Administrative History section the RG 301.8 collection guide.

United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of National Missions Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare Records, 1867-1986, bulk 1923-1972

  • SERIES II: Administrative Records, 1891-1970; Subseries 2: Survey Reports, 1950-1963
  • SERIES III: General Department of Health, Education and Welfare; Subseries 3: Day Schools, Wilcox County, Alabama, 1959-1972
  • SERIES V: Educational and Medical Institutions/Agencies, 1867-1986
  • SERIES IX: History Cards

Call number: RG 301.8
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Board of Aid for Colleges and Academies / College Board

In 1883 the General Assembly organized the Presbyterian Board of Aid for Colleges and Academies to direct "the interests of higher education as connected with the Presbyterian Church." In 1904 the name of the Board was changed to "The College Board" and its headquarters was moved from Chicago to New York. In 1915 the General Assembly merged the Board of Education and the College Board. The following year a plan was adopted for carrying out this mandate by organizing the "General Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A." Its headquarters were in New York. The consolidation was finalized on November 1, 1918 in the Presbyterian Building, New York, when the Board of Education and the College Board transferred their assets to the General Board of Education.

Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. College Board Records, 1883-1948

  • Alphabetical by institution name

Call number: RG 32
View a list of unprocessed College Board records here.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). National Ministries Division. Racial Ethnic Schools and Colleges Records, 1961-2006*

  • Includes records relating to Barber-Scotia College, Knoxville College, Mary Holmes College, and Stillman College.

Call number: 09 0901 44B/44C

*Access note: It is the policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to restrict access to all official records on deposit at the Presbyterian Historical Society that are less than 20 years old. This restriction applies at the national, mid council, and congregation level. If you wish to access official records less than 20 years old, you must secure written permission from the records' owners. Please consult with the reference staff at refdesk@history.pcusa.org for further details.

Other National Agency Offices and Mid-Councils

The Support Agency Photograph Collection includes photographs collected by the Department of Audio-Visual Aids and other departments of the Board of National Missions.

United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Support Agency Photographs. ca. 1870-ca. 1972

  • Box 10, Folders 1-2, African Americans--Educational Work, 1930s-1950s, 3 prints
  • Box 10, Folders 3-11, African Americans—Missions, 1910s-1960s, about 80 prints
  • Box 13, Folder 18, Negro Field Photo Album, 1930s, includes Swift, Mary Holmes, Gillespie-Selden, Mary Potter, Coulter, Barber-Scotia, Harbison, and Boggs, 73 pages

Call number: RG 303
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Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. African American Synods Collection, 1873-1988

Minutes of Atlantic, Blue Ridge, Canadian, and Catawba include information about founding of some of the Black schools within their boundaries.

Call number: RG 395
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Bibliography

This bibliography focuses on the history of the Presbyterian church and Black education. Books and articles about specific schools are listed in the "Schools and Colleges" section of this guide. Additional resources may be found in our online catalog, Calvin, and in the card catalog in the reading room. Please contact refdesk@history.pcusa.org for further information.

All Black Governing Bodies: The History and Contributions of All-Black Governing Bodies.  A Report of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY: 1996.
Call number. BX 8946 .A35 P730 1996

Anderson, Matthew. Presbyterianism: Its Relation to the Negro. Philadelphia: John McGill White & Co., 1897.

Barber, Jesse Belmont. Climbing Jacob's ladder: story of the work of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. among the Negroes. New York: Board of National Missions, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., [1952].
Call number: BX 8946 .N4 B3 1952

Coalter, Milton J., John M. Mulder, Louis B. Weeks, editors. The Pluralistic vision: Presbyterians and mainstream Protestant education and leadership. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.
Call number: WESTPR 5288

Drury, Clifford Merrill. Presbyterian panorama: one hundred and fifty years of National Missions history. Philadelphia: Board of Christian Education, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1952.
Call number: BV 2570 .D7 1952

McCall, Jeannette Steele. The first and last bell: a story of six missions for Blacks in Wilcox County, Alabama. Baltimore, Maryland: American Literary Press, 2005.
Call number: LC 2802 .A2 M33 2005

McGranahan, Ralph Wilson, editor. Historical sketch of the freedmen's missions of the United Presbyterian Church, 1862-1904. [Knoxville, Tennessee]: Printing Department, Knoxville College, 1904.
Call number: BV 2783 .H57 1904

Murray, Andrew E.. Presbyterians and the Negro : a history. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1966.
Call number: BX 8946 .N4 M8 1966

Parker, Inez Moore. The rise and decline of the program of education for Black Presbyterians of the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., 1865-1970. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1977.
Call number: LC 580 .P37 1977

Thompkins, Robert Edwin. A history of religious education among negroes in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America .. submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Pittsburgh in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Pittsburgh: [R.E. Thompkins], 1950.
Call number: BV 2783 .T566 1950

Thompkins, Robert E. "Presbyterian Religious Education among Negroes, 1864—1891." Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society. Vol. 29, No. 3 (September, 1951), pp. 145-171 (27 pages)

Thompson, Ernest Trice. "Black Presbyterians, Education, and Evangelism after the Civil War." The Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 76, No. 1 (Spring 1998), pp. 55-70 (16 pages)

Wright, Stephen J. and Alexancer W. Austin, et al. A study of the Black colleges related to the Presbyterian Church : Barber-Scotia College, Johnson C. Smith University, Knoxville College, Mary Holmes College, Stillman College. Publisher not identified, 1971.
Call number: ARCHIVES 08 0402c 179G

School List by State

This list is from Inez Moore Parker's Rise and Decline of the Program of Education for Black Presbyterians of the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A.,  1865-1970. It may not include all Presbyterian-related historically Black schools.

Alabama

  • Barber Memorial College, Anniston
  • Miller Memorial, Birmingham
  • Miller's Ferry School (UPC), Wilcox County
  • Prairie Mission School (UPC), Wilcox County
  • Camden Academy (UPC), Wilcox County
  • Arlington Institute (UPC), Wilcox County
  • Canton Bend Mission (UPC), Wilcox County
  • Midway Mission (UPC), Wilcox County

Arkansas

  • Mount Herman Parochial School, Fordyce
  • Monticello Academy, Monticello
  • Mebane Academy, Hot Springs
  • Arkadelphia Presbyterian Academy, Arkadelphia
  • Richard Allen Institute, Pine Bluff
  • Cotton Plant Academy, Cotton Plant

Florida

  • Laura Street Parochial School, Jacksonville
  • Mellon Parochial School, Palatka
  • Mather-Peritt Parochial School, St. Augustine
  • Berean Parochial School, Gainesville

Georgia

  • Pleasant Grove Parochial School, Liberty County
  • Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta
  • Midway Parochial School, Midway
  • Ebenezer Parochial School, Rome
  • McClelland Academy, Newman
  • Selden Institute, Brunswick
  • Gillespie-Selden Institute, Cordele
  • Boggs Academy, Keysville

Kansas

  • Quindaro High School, Quindaro

Kentucky

  • Fee Memorial Institute, Nicholasville
  • Bowling Green Academy, Bowling Green
  • Logan High School, Danville

Maryland

  • Mt. Zion Parochial School, Lothian

Mississippi

  • Mary Holmes Junior College, West Point

North Carolina

  • Albion Academy, Franklinton
  • Redstone Academy, Lumberton
  • Billingsley Academy, Statesville
  • Freedom Parochial School, Bethany
  • Greensboro Graded School, Greensboro
  • Charlotte Parochial School, Charlotte
  • Calvary Parochial School, Asheville
  • Sarah Lincoln Academy, Aberdeen
  • Yadkin Academy, Mebane
  • Mary Potter School, Oxford
  • Scotia College, Concord
  • Biddle (Johnson C. Smith) University, Charlotte
  • Henderson Institute (UPC), Henderson

Oklahoma

  • Oak Hill-Alice Lee Elliott Academy, Valliant

South Carolina

  • Wallingtord Academy, Charleston
  • Larimer High School, Edisto Island
  • Goodwill Parochial School, Mayesville
  • Ebenezer Parochial School, Dalzell
  • St. Mary's Grade School, Blackstock
  • Fairfield Institute, Winnsboro
  • Blufton Institute, Beaufort County
  • Immanuel Institute, Aiken
  • Brainerd Institute, Chester
  • Bethany Parochial School, McConnellsville
  • Mattoon Parochial School, Greenville
  • Lincoln High School, Due West
  • Emerson Industrial Institute, Blackville
  • Coulter Memorial Academy, Cheraw
  • Harbison College, Irmo
  • Grant Academy, Spartanburg
  • Calhoun Falls Mission, Calhoun Falls
  • Kendall Institute, Sumter
  • New Hope Parochial School, Camden
  • Harden Academy, Allendale
  • St. James Parochial School, James Island
  • Mary A. Steel Memorial, John's Island
  • Salem Industrial High School, Anderson
  • Irmo Parochial School, Irmo
  • Frasier Excelsior School, Bamberg

Tennessee

  • Mt. Tabor Graded School, Columbia
  • Mayers Parochial School, Knoxville
  • Rendall Academy, Keeling
  • Newton Normal Institute, Chattanooga
  • Swift Memorial College, Rogersville
  • Knoxville College (UPC), Knoxville

Texas

  • Mary Allen Junior College, Crockett

Virginia

  • Russell Grove School, Amelia Court House
  • Christian Light Mission, Mannsboro
  • Winchester Normal School, Winchester
  • Classon School, Martinsville
  • Great Creek School, Bracey
  • Holbrook School, Dunville
  • Wheeler Graded School, Drakes Branch
  • Ingleside Seminary, Burkeville
  • Thyne Institute (UPC), Chase City
  • Bluestone Academy (UPC), Bluestone
  • Norfolk Mission College (UPC), Norfolk