Historically Black Colleges and Universities TimeLine

The Establishment of HBCUs

Why HBCUs?
Before 1850s
Image Sources

Charles T. Keck, Booker T. Washington Removing the Veil of Ignorance and Superstition, 1922.

Black Americans were denied the legal right to an education at almost every level in the first 350 years of American history. Religious philanthropy played a role in the founding of institutes for the higher education of Blacks before the end of the Civil War. Cheyney University in Pennsylvania, the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's), was founded in 1837 by a Quaker philanthropist. Since many states had laws on the books preventing the education of Blacks, primary and secondary schools were in short supply before the Emancipation Proclamation, let alone colleges. Some educational institutions, like the Penn Normal School, were established during the war in coastal areas of the South that came under the control of the Union army. (University of Virginia Library, 2008) 

Most of the HBCU's, however, were founded in the period immediately after the end of the Civil War up until the institutions of the Jim crow laws in the 1890's. Some of the colleges were founded as religious institutions and seminaries. Others were founded as Normal Schools designed to produce teachers for the newly founded primary and secondary schools in the South. Some of the HBCU's were originally poly technical colleges and followed a technical and agricultural curriculum in an effort to "teach the students a trade". In the Twentieth century, many of these A & T colleges preserved elements of their traditional curriculum and produced leading scientists, engineers, and scholars. (University of Virginia Library, 2008)

The goal of this website is to allow the reader the ability to understand the pertinent history of HBCUs and how the establishment of HBCUs helped to transform higher education in the United States not only for African Americans, but for all Americans.