Institute for Colored Youth

The Institute for Colored Youth was founded in 1837 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It became the first college for African-Americans in the United States, although there were schools that admitted African Americans preceding it. At the time, public policy and certain statutory provisions prohibited the education of blacks in various parts of the nation and slavery was entrenched across the south. It was followed by two other black institutions— Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1854), and Wilberforce University in Ohio (1856). The second site of the Institute for Colored Youth at Ninth and Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is also known as the Samuel J. Randall School.[3] A three-story, three-bay brick building was built for it in 1865, in the Italianate-style[4] After moving to Cheyney, Pennsylvania in Delaware County, Pennsylvania its name was changed to Cheyney University.

Institute for Colored Youth
Institute for Colored Youth is located in Philadelphia
Institute for Colored Youth
Institute for Colored Youth is located in Pennsylvania
Institute for Colored Youth
Institute for Colored Youth is located in the United States
Institute for Colored Youth
Location915 Bainbridge St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°56′31″N 75°09′28″W / 39.9420°N 75.1579°W / 39.9420; -75.1579
ArchitectEdward Fay
Architectural styleItalianate
MPSPhiladelphia Public Schools TR
NRHP reference No.86003324
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 4, 1986[2]
Designated PHMC1991[1]

History edit

The Institute was founded as the African Institute by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one-tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate people of African descent. Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764, where he became concerned about the struggles of free African Americans to make a living. News of the Cincinnati riots of 1829 prompted Humphreys to write his will, in which he charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution "to instruct the descendants of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers...."

Using the money Humphreys bequeathed, the Quakers formed an organization in 1837. The school was soon renamed the Institute for Colored Youth. For several years, they experimented with agricultural and industrial education, as well as trade apprenticeships for African-American children. By 1851, the Managers, as the Quakers came to be called, instead decided to focus on Humphreys's wish to train African-American children to become teachers. In 1852, the Managers opened the first Institute for Colored Youth building at 716–718 Lombard Street in Philadelphia.[5] Grace A. Mapps was appointed head of the 'Female Department'.[6]

The Noyes Academy in New Hampshire preceded it and there had been efforts to establish a college for African Americans in New Haven, Connecticut but efforts to form the college were stopped by opposition from whites and the school was destroyed in mob attacks. Prudence Crandall was not allowed to admit an African American girl to her Canterbury Female Boarding School. She converted the boarding school to one for only African American girls, but was jailed for her efforts and a Black Law was passed in the state. The school closed after mob attacks.

Although operated by the Quaker Board of Managers, the faculty of the Institute for Colored Youth were entirely African-American men and women. The Institute contained both Boys' and Girls' High Schools, as well as a Preparatory School (sometimes known as the Brown Preparatory School). The school provided a classical education to young African Americans in Philadelphia, with a curriculum including advanced mathematics, sciences, English, philosophy, various social sciences, and classical languages.[5]

Development edit

Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett, who later served as United States Ambassador to Haiti from 1869 to 1877, was the school's principal from 1857 to 1869.[7]

Institute for Colored Youth Building Historical Marker

By 1861, the Managers recognized a need for a better facility for their growing school. After an extensive fundraising campaign, the Managers purchased a lot at 915 Bainbridge Street. The new Institute for Colored Youth building opened on March 9, 1866. It was capable of holding twice as many students as the original school and had facilities such as a lecture hall and chemistry laboratory.[5]

Move to Cheyney edit

In 1902, under the leadership of newly appointed principal Hugh M. Browne, the Institute moved to George Cheyney's farm, 25 miles (40 km) west of Philadelphia, and afterward the name "Cheyney" became associated with the school.[8]

Current use edit

The Randall School House is now used as condos.[9]

Notable alumni edit

A plaque commemorating the Institute for Colored Youth on the statue of Octavius Catto in Philadelphia

Academics edit

Artists edit

Educators edit

Miscellaneous edit

References edit

  1. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  3. ^ Calhoun, Johann. "America's oldest HBCU aims to be driving force again in producing teachers". WHYY. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  4. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania". CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Archived from the original (Searchable database) on 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2012-07-07. Note: This includes B. Mintz (July 1986). "Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form: Institute for Colored Youth" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  5. ^ a b c "History of the Institute for Colored Youth" Archived 2015-02-08 at the Wayback Machine (The Institute for Colored Youth in the Civil War Era" "...a great thing for our people"), Villanova University.
  6. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American women. Internet Archive. New York : Gale Research. ISBN 978-0-8103-9177-2.
  7. ^ Freedom's Lawmakers by Eric Foner Louisiana State University Press (1996) page 13
  8. ^ "Institute for Colored Youth". Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  9. ^ "Randall School House". The Condo Shop. 23 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 September 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  10. ^ "Rebecca Cole (c. 1846-1922)" Archived 2015-02-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Institute for Colored Youth in the Civil War Era, Villanova University.
  11. ^ William J. Simmons, Henry McNeal Turner, Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising, G. M. Rewell & Company, 1887, p 898-907