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Rosenwald Schools: Guide to Library of Congress Resources

To advance education for African American children, Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and the African American community built schools across the rural South. This guide highlights related print, manuscript, pictorial and digital resources.


Teachers of [Agents of] Rosenwald Rural Schools. 1916. Booker T. Washington Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

In 1913, with encouragement from Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), provided funds for Tuskegee Institute to construct six schools for African American children in rural Alabama. Within a year, Rosenwald donated $30,000 for building an additional 100 schools in rural Alabama; shortly after that he funded 200 schools in other southern states. By 1917, two years following the death of Dr. Washington, Rosenwald, established the Julius Rosenwald Fund for the purpose of improving the status of all people.

From 1917 to 1932, the Fund generously donated money for the building of schools throughout the rural south. This program, known as the Rosenwald School Program; by 1932 had helped Southern states and counties build more than 4,977 rural public schools for Negroes. The Fund required matching funds from the local communities. Contributions from African Americans clearly demonstrated a thirst for education. When the rural school program ended, “4,977 new schools were completed, 217 teacher’s homes were constructed, and 163 shop buildings, all constructed at a total cost of $28,408,520.00; these facilities served 663,615 students in 883 counties in 15 states.”