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About the Freedmen's Teacher Project

As southern blacks escaped enslavement during the Civil War, one of their first priorities was to establish schools for themselves and their children across the South. Between 1861 and 1876, thousands of teachers, black and white, northerners and southerners, taught in the new "freedmen's schools." As Booker T. Washington said "it was a whole race trying to go to school." As Pauli Murray remembered, the freedmen "believed as perhaps no other people had believed so fervently, that knowledge would make them truly free." Die hards and dead-enders among the former Confederates challenged the scholars at every turn. "The white rowdies are doing what they can to put down the schools," wrote one teacher from Norfolk, Virginia. "We were startled on Saturday morning [to learn our] Hall had been set on fire." Between 1861 and 1876, teachers were terrorized; schools were burned. But the quest for education was never extinguished. "Their steady eagerness to learn is just something amazing,” said one teacher, "To be deprived of a lesson is a severe punishment. 'I got no reading to-day,' or no writing, or no sums, is cause for bitter tears. This race is going to rise."

Building from an exhaustive database created by Professor Ron Butchart for his book, Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876, the Freedmen's Teacher Project brings together biographical data on every teacher who worked in the freedmen's schools. Visitors may extract data on individuals or groups or contribute new data -- photos, letters, factual information, etc. -- to the database. Come learn more about one of the most heroic undertakings in the history of education.

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27 Jan

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27 Jan

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27 Jan

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Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • 706-542-2455
  • history@uga.edu

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

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