University of Louisville

Poster Title

African-American Education in Rural Kentucky: 1865-1885

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

After emancipation, former slaves showed fervent desire for education. During the first twenty years of emancipation, two programs were created to educate African Americans in Kentucky. The first was instituted by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau.” Federal authorities established the Freedmen’s Bureau to ease freedpeoples’ transition from slavery. Establishing schools for African Americans figured among the Bureau’s major accomplishments. The second major program began in 1874, when the state of Kentucky created a separate school system for “colored” students. These two institutions, federal and state, contributed to the advancement of African American education in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. This project examines African American education in the Kentucky Bluegrass. Using three communities in Nelson and Spencer counties as a case study, it examines the effectiveness of education provided by Freedmen’s Bureau and state schools. To date, historians have concentrated on questions about black education in Louisville and Lexington. The poster examines African American education in rural communities. How many people went to rural black schools? What did students learn? Who made up the student body, and how effective were the programs provided? What did children not attending school do? In exploring these questions, this poster offers a fuller understanding of African American education in the immediate aftermath of emancipation.

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African-American Education in Rural Kentucky: 1865-1885

After emancipation, former slaves showed fervent desire for education. During the first twenty years of emancipation, two programs were created to educate African Americans in Kentucky. The first was instituted by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau.” Federal authorities established the Freedmen’s Bureau to ease freedpeoples’ transition from slavery. Establishing schools for African Americans figured among the Bureau’s major accomplishments. The second major program began in 1874, when the state of Kentucky created a separate school system for “colored” students. These two institutions, federal and state, contributed to the advancement of African American education in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. This project examines African American education in the Kentucky Bluegrass. Using three communities in Nelson and Spencer counties as a case study, it examines the effectiveness of education provided by Freedmen’s Bureau and state schools. To date, historians have concentrated on questions about black education in Louisville and Lexington. The poster examines African American education in rural communities. How many people went to rural black schools? What did students learn? Who made up the student body, and how effective were the programs provided? What did children not attending school do? In exploring these questions, this poster offers a fuller understanding of African American education in the immediate aftermath of emancipation.