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Storer College Correspondence, Business Papers and Other Material

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.2621

Scope and Contents

Records of Storer College, West Virginia's first African American institution of higher learning, located in Harpers Ferry. This collection contains both institutional records and personal papers related to the College.

Types of records include correspondence, business papers, photographs, memorabilia, issues of the Storer Record (the Storer College newspaper), financial records, scrapbooks, bulletins, minute books, newspaper and magazine clippings, diaries, motion pictures, and miscellaneous material.

Highlights of the collection include records regarding the early years of Storer College; correspondence and papers of Henry J. McDonald, who served as president of Storer College president from 1899 to 1945; correspondence and other material regarding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and correspondence and photographs regarding the service of Storer College students during World War I and World War II.

The collection is organized into sixteen series, including:

Series 1. Correspondence and Business Papers; ca. 1865-1964; boxes 1-12, 15-18a, 19, 25-26, 29-30
Series 2. Storer Record -- Newspaper; 1892-1931, 1940, 1942; boxes 13-14, 18b
Series 3. Financial Records and Other Material; 1912, 1939, 1953-1954; box 18b
Series 4. Scrapbooks and Miscellaneous Publications; ca. 1875-1950; boxes 20a-20b
Series 5. Financial and Other Record Books; 1913-1955; box 21
Series 6. College Bulletin and Other Material; 1882-1951; boxes 21, 22, 24
Series 7. Student Affairs; 1907-1955; boxes 23a-23b
Series 8. Minute Books; 1898-1944; box 27a
Series 9. Newspaper and Magazine Clippings; 1895, 1920, 1947, 1963-1964; box 27b
Series 10. Miscellaneous; 1867-1897, 1922-1940; box 28
Series 11. Diary of Henry T. McDonald; 1899-1900; box 28
Series 12. Photographs; ca. 1870-1955; boxes 31-32
Series 13. General Correspondence; ca. 1854-1950; boxes 33-41
Series 14. Memorabilia; 1938, undated; boxes 42-45
Series 15. Motion Pictures; 1940s, 1946; box 46
Series 16. Oversize Photographs; ca. 1895-1955; boxes 47-4

Dates

  • 1854-1964

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Storer College of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, emerged from the aftermath of the Civil War with the purpose of educating former slaves who were now facing the world with few skills and no education. It began in 1865 as a school in the Lockwood House, a private residence, with the support of the Freewill Baptist Home Mission Society of New England under Reverend Nathan Cook Brackett; in 1867 it officially became Storer Normal School, with the mission of training teachers; and in 1938 Storer became a College. The College closed in 1955 due to declining enrollment, financial problems, and the advent of desegregation.

Although there were dedicated teachers in the beginning, by 1867 there were still only 16 instructors to educate 2,500 students. Reverend Brackett realized the only way to reach all of the students was to train African American teachers, thus necessitating the expansion of the school into a teacher college.

The philanthropist John Storer from Maine came forward and offered a $10,000 grant to the Freewill Baptists to create a teacher college under three conditions: first, the school must eventually become a degree-granting college; second, the school had to be open to all applicants, regardless of race or gender; and finally, the most difficult of the prerequisites, the Freewill Baptist Church had to match his $10,000 donation within a year. After a year-long effort the money was raised, and Storer Normal School opened its doors; and by March 1868 it received its state charter.

the beginning local residents were resistant to a "colored school" and tried to shut it down through slander, vandalism, and local politics. One teacher wrote, "it is unusual for me to go to the Post Office without being hooted at, and twice I have been stoned on the streets at noonday." The attitudes of local residents eventually changed, however, so that later in his life Reverend Brackett became a respected citizen of Harpers Ferry.

Though Storer remained primarily a teacher college, in time it began adding courses in higher education to its curriculum so that students could graduate with a normal degree for teaching, or an academic degree for going on to college. In 1938, under the leadership of school president Henry T. McDonald, Storer became a college. Its enrollment peaked at around 400, and then dipped lower during World War II. The College survived until 1955 when declining enrollment, financial stress, and court-ordered desegregation combined to close it.

In addition to its progressive role in educating African Americans, the College became associated with other advocates of civil rights, such as Frederick Douglas, who visited Storer Normal School in 1881 to deliver a speech on John Brown, and the Niagara Movement led by William Du Bois, who held a conference at Storer in 1906. The NAACP was later to adopt many of the goals of the Niagara Movement.

This historical note was sourced from the West Virginia Encyclopedia and Wikipedia.

Extent

21.3 Linear Feet (Summary: 21 ft. 4 in. (39 document cases, 5 in. each); (4 document cases, 2 1/2 in. each); (2 records cartons, 15 in. each); (1 small flat storage box, 3 in.); (1 large flat storage box, 3 in.); (2 large flat storage boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (1 card file box, 4 in.); (1 roll storage box, 4 in.))

Overview

Records of Storer College, West Virginia's first African American institution of higher learning, located in Harpers Ferry. Types of records include correspondence, business papers, photographs, memorabilia, issues of the Storer Record (the Storer College newspaper), financial records, scrapbooks, bulletins, minute books, newspaper and magazine clippings, diaries, motion pictures, and miscellaneous material. Includes records regarding the early years of the College, among other topics. See "Scope and Content Note" and "Historical Note" for further information.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Related A&M Collections

1131, 1168, 1322, 1471, 2621

Creator

Title
Storer College Correspondence, Business Papers and Other Material
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536