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South Carolina Rosenwald Schools

 Collection
Identifier: AMN 1152

Scope and Contents

The South Carolina Rosenwald Schools Collections contains background information education, Black education and schools built with the support of the Julius Rosenwald Fund in the state of South Carolina between 1920-1931. The collection includes correspondence, programs, publications, financial records, clippings, insurance information and documents related to the preservation of Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina. The bulk of the information includes photocopies of statistics from the Fisk University Archives on Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina listed by county and generally includes the name of the school, county, acreage, school type, budget year under which it was built, application number, total cost and who contributed the funds.

The collection is arranged into three series:

1. Documents Related to Rosenwald Schools includes background information on education, Black education, Rosenwald Schools and preservation of Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina.

2. Rosenwald Schools by South Carolina Counties, which is divided into 20 sub-series:

2.1 “A” Counties includes statistics with some images, State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Forms and a write up related to Rosenwald Schools in Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale and Anderson counties.

2.2 “B” Counties includes statistics with some images, State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Forms, maps related to Rosenwald Schools in Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort and Berkeley counties.

2.3 “C” Counties includes statistics with some images and correspondence related to Rosenwald Schools in Calhoun, Charleston, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon and Colleton counties.

2.4 “D” Counties includes statistics with some images related to Rosenwald Schools in Darlington, Dillon and Dorchester counties.

2.5 “E” Counties includes statistics with some images related to Rosenwald Schools in Edgefield County.

2.6 “F” Counties includes statistics with some images, contact information and a National Register of Historic Places Registration Form related to Rosenwald Schools in Fairfield and Florence counties.

2.7 “G” Counties includes statistics with some images and correspondence related to Rosenwald Schools in Georgetown, Greenville and Greenwood counties.

2.8 “H” Counties includes statistics with some images related to Rosenwald Schools in Hampton and Horry counties.

2.9 “J” Counties includes statistics with some images related to Rosenwald Schools in Jasper County.

2.10 “K” Counties includes statistics with some images, Correspondence and State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Forms related to Rosenwald Schools in Kershaw County.

2.11 “L” Counties includes statistics with some images, a write up and State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Forms related to Rosenwald Schools in Lancaster, Laurens, Lee and Lexington counties.

2.12 “M” Counties includes statistics with some images, correspondence, State Department of Archives record related to Rosenwald Schools in Marion, Marlboro and McCormick counties.

2.13 “N” Counties includes statistics with some images, correspondence and a write up related to Rosenwald Schools in Newberry County.

2.14 “O” Counties includes statistics with some images, notes and correspondence related to Rosenwald Schools in Oconee and Orangeburg Counties.

2.15 “P” Counties includes statistics with some related to Rosenwald Schools in Pickens County.

2.16 “R” Counties includes statistics with some images, Statewide Survey Site forms, Statewide Survey of Historic Resources forms, Upper County Survey National Register Evaluations, various write ups and reports, correspondence, grant application and Intensive Survey Form and maps related to Rosenwald Schools in Richland County.

2.17 “S” Counties includes statistics with some images, correspondence, State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Forms and a map related to Rosenwald Schools in Saluda, Spartanburg and Sumter counties.

2.18 “U” Counties includes statistics with some images and a Teacher School Application related to Rosenwald Schools in Union County.

2.19 “W” Counties includes statistics with some images and correspondence related to Rosenwald Schools in Williamsburg County.

2.20 “Y” Counties includes statistics with some images, State Preservation Office Intensive Documentation Continuation and Photograph Form related to Rosenwald Schools in York County.

3. Rosenwald Schools by Name includes information on Rosenwald Schools in McClellanville in Charleston County, South Carolina such as various write ups, Charleston Black School Directory Listings, real estate titles, land purchase agreements, auditor records, closing statements, maps, plats, notes, land parcel printouts and images.

Dates

  • 1912-2005; undated

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions

Biographical / Historical

Rosenwald School was an initiative spearheaded by the founder of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Booker T. Washington and wealthy entrepreneur, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., Julius Rosenwald. The two met in Chicago, Illinois in 1911. Washington, who had been born into slavery and became one the most prominent African Americans in the United States, was looking for wealthy investors to contribute funds to Tuskegee (a Black teacher training school) as well as to contribute to the improvement of Black schools in general, which were overwhelming out of date, understaffed and under-resourced at the time. As a result, Washington invited Rosenwald to visit Tuskegee’s campus in Alabama and eventually Rosenwald agreed to serve on the school’s board of trustees. In 1912 Rosenwald pledged $25,000 to “extend a helping hand” to the Black schools that were “doing the same kind of work” as Tuskegee. Tuskegee’s curriculum was industrial style and combined basic literacy and math skills with home economics and vocational training. After spending most of the initial grants funds for African American Teacher training schools, Washington requested to use the remaining $2,800 to build six schools in rural areas of Alabama. Each school received a $300 grant and in 1913 the first Rosenwald School was built near Tuskegee for a total $942.50.

Washington insisted on certain criteria regarding schools built with Rosenwald grants. For example, Rosenwald Schools had to be built at the county level in various states across the South and the county in question could not rely solely on Rosenwald grants for the construction of the school. In 1914, Rosenwald donated an additional $30,000 to build 100 rural Black schools. Tuskegee’s staff architect Robert R. Taylor created building plans for the schools, which were published in 1915 in The Negro Rural School and Its Relation to the Community. Washington oversaw the administration of the Rosenwald grants (a maximum of $300 per school) until his death in November 1915. In 1917, in response to the increasing demand for Rosenwald Schools, the building program came under the Rosenwald Fund. With this change, came additional criteria for those school districts applying for grant fund, which included the need to hold a deed to at least two acres of land to build upon, local approval of a building plan and raising money to cover any balances no met by the grant funds. The grant increased from $300 to $500 for a single teacher school and $2,100 for a school with ten teachers or more.

In 1920, Professor Fletcher B. Dresslar, reported Rosenwald Schools needed improved lighting, ventilation, sanitation, building materials and felt some were not structurally sound due to deviating from approved building plans. This prompted the administration of the Rosenwald Fund to move administration of the building program to their Southern Office in Nashville where Dresslar and Samuel L. Smith developed the Community School Plans. These plans were utilized and improved upon through 1931 and many white schools used them to standardize the construction of their schools as well. Some of the features of the Community School Plans included “gabled roofs, one story structures…windows on only one side of the classroom…taller windows with narrower framing” and specific color schemes. “Blackboards were required on three of the walls” as well as modernized desks. The Rosenwald Fund also supported building accommodations for educators knowns as “teacherages” as well as shop buildings for vocational training.

By the time it was discontinued in 1932, the Rosenwald Fund contributed to the construction of 4,977 Rosenwald Schools, 217 teacherages and 163 shops. The total cost of Rosenwald Schools was $28.5 million, with $4.3 millions coming directly from the Rosenwald Fund and another $4.7 million raised by local Black communities who often went without to raise money for local schools. About one third of all African American children across 15 states spent time in a Rosenwald School.

In South Carolina 481 schools, 11 shops and eight teacherages were built under the Rosenwald School Fund between 1917 and 1932. Rosenwald Schools were built in every county in South Carolina. Greenville County topped the list with 31 schools, followed by Newberry County with 26, Florence County with 25 and Spartanburg County with 24. In addition to providing a solid eighth grade industrial education in home economics in home economics, “carpentry, blacksmithing, furniture making, home building and tool repair,” Rosenwald Schools and teacher’s homes also served as community centers for African Americans. They were the site community clubs, “musicals, theatricals, pageants, and exhibits of industrial work…dances, Juneteenth celebrations, fundraisers, church services and political activism.” Rosenwald Schools and teacher’s homes quite often set the “standard for architecture, sanitation and maintenance” in their communities. The school building initiative spurred by the Rosenwald Fund became one the most important movements for Black education since Reconstruction.

Sources:

“History of Tuskegee University” Tuskegee University /www.tuskegee.edu/about-us/history-and-mission> accessed 8 April 2021

Hoffschwelle, Mary S., “Preserving Rosenwald Schools,” National Trust for Historic Preservation (2003) /forum.savingplaces.org/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=693200ab-b3c9-7ee9-f177-6ed15bcd491b> accessed 20 November 2020

“Reinventing Rosenwalds,” National Trust for Historic Preservation /savingplaces.org/stories/reinventing-rosenwalds#.YG9tj-hKg2w> accessed 20 November 2020

“Rosenwald Schools,” South Carolina Department of Archives and History /scdah.sc.gov/historic-preservation/resources/african-american-heritage/rosenwald-schools> accessed 20 November 2020

Weathers, Lindsay C. M., “The Rosenwald School Building Program in South Carolina, 1917-1932,” National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, University of South Carolina Public History Program (2008) /www.nationalregister.sc.gov/MPS/MPS050.pdf> accessed 20 November 2020

Extent

1.25 linear feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Rosenwald Schools Initiative was founded by Tuskegee Institute founder, Booker T. Washington and Sears and Roebuck Co. president, Julius Rosenwald in 1912. Washington saw the need to build schools for African Americans, particularly in rural areas across the South and Rosenwald was looking for a charitable opportunity to support and expressed interest in the plight of the Black community. Although Washington passed away in late 1915, the Rosenwald Fund went on to support the creation of nearly 5000 Black schools through 1932, with nearly 500 of them built in the state of South Carolina. The South Carolina Rosenwald School collection contains publications, writes ups, correspondence, financial records, preservation information, statistics, images, maps, plats and titles. The collection is arranged into three series. The first series, Documents Related to Rosenwald Schools contains correspondence, publications and documents related to Rosenwald Schools, education, Black education and the preservation of Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina. The second series Rosenwald Schools by South Carolina County is separated into 20 alphabetized sub-series beginning with counties “A-H,” “J-P,” “R-S,” “U,” “Y,” and “W” and contains photocopies of statistics and images from the Fisk University Archives and Library about South Carolina Rosenwald Schools; State Preservation Office forms, maps, National Register of Historic Places Registration Forms, correspondence, notes, grant applications, additional images and write ups. The third and final series Rosenwald Schools by Name contains Charleston Black School Directory Listings, real estate titles, land purchase agreements, auditor records, closing statements, plats and land parcel printouts related to schools in McClennanville in Charleston County, South Carolina.

Arrangement

Series 1. Documents Related to Rosenwald Schools, 1915-2005, undated

Series 2. Rosenwald Schools by South Carolina Counties, 1930-2004; undated

2.1 “A” Counties, 1989-2003; undated

2.2 “B” Counties, 2002; undated

2.3 “C” Counties, 2003-2004; undated

2.4 “D” Counties, undated

2.5 “E” Counties, undated

2.6 “F” Counties, 1999-2001; undated

2.7 “G” Counties, 2002; undated

2.8 “H” Counties, 1988; 2003; undated

2.9 “J” Counties, undated

2.10 “K” Counties, 2001-2004; undated

2.11 “L” Counties, 2001-2003; undated

2.12 “M” Counties, 2002-2003; undated

2.13 “N” Counties, 1988-1989; 2001-2003; undated

2.14 “O” Counties, 1942; 2003-2004; undated

2.15 “P” Counties, undated

2.16 “R” Counties, 1936; 1950; 1995; 2001-2004; undated

2.17 “S” Counties, 2003; undated

2.18 “U” Counties, 1930-1931; undated

2.19 “W” Counties, 2003; undated

2.20 “Y” Counties, undated

Series 3. Rosenwald Schools by Name, 1912-2005; undated

Custodial History

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Related Materials

AMN 1151 Charleston Free Library Rosenwald Fund collection

Title
Inventory of the South Carolina Rosenwald Schools collection, 1915-2005
Author
Erica Veal
Date
March-April 2021
Description rules
Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

Contact:
125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States
843-953-7608