Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915

Alternative names
Birth 1856-04-05
Death 1915-11-14

Biographical notes:

Booker T. Washington was an African American educator and public figure. Born a slave on a small farm in Virginia, he worked his way through the Hampton Institute and became an instructor there. He was the first principal of the Tuskegee Institute, and under his management it became a successful center for practical education. A forceful and charismatic personality, he became a national figure through his books and lectures. Although his conservative views concerned many critics, he became the most important African American voice of his generation and had a vital influence on American culture.

From the description of Booker T. Washington letters and clipped signature, circa 1904 and undated. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 61113097

Booker T. Washington was American educator, author, and leader in the African-American community. He served as head of Tuskegee Institute from 1881-1915.

From the description of [Letters] 1900-1915 / Booker T. Washington. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 464289587

Former slave and later president of Tuskegee Institute.

From the description of Papers of Booker T. Washington 1901-1904. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32135393

Booker T. Washington, the most prominent African American of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; founder of the Tuskegee Institute who urged Blacks to concentrate on economic self-advancement.

From the description of Letters, 1895,1900. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80797423

Founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for the education of young African Americans in 1881 in Tuskegee Institute, Alabama; served as its principal from 1881 to 1915.

From the description of Letters, 1908-1911. (Buffalo History Museum). WorldCat record id: 34178336


From the description of Letters, 1897-1907. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 41546363

Booker T. Washington was Principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute "for the training of colored young men and women."

From the description of Letters signed by Booker T. Washington, 1896-1914 [manuscript] (Haverford College Library). WorldCat record id: 363205234

Washington founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

From the description of Three-quarter length portrait of Washington seated at a table and holding a book : signed and matted albumen print, 1910, Feb. 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754864273

Booker T. Washington was an educator and reformer, first president and principal developer of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University), and the most influential spokesman for black Americans between 1895 and 1915.

From the description of Booker Taliaferro Washington letter, 1910. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 308561451

Educator; b. Booker Taliaferro Washington.

From the description of Booker T. Washington letters, 1902-1913. (Cheyney University). WorldCat record id: 70972034

Educator, writer, founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

From the description of Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1889-1913. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122575935

From the guide to the Booker T. Washington correspondence, 1889-1913, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

American educator.

From the description of Letter, 1902 April 2, Tuskegee, Alabama, to William Sloane Kennedy, Madison, Wisc. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 184904381

African American educator, social reformer, and president of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.

From the description of Booker T. Washington collection, 1885-1914. (Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center). WorldCat record id: 70941313

Noted black educator and head of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

From the description of Letter, May 2, 1900. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 281323922

American educator, born a slave in Franklin Co., Va. Founder and president of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. Spokesman for the conservative viewpoint among African Americans who favored self-improvement, industrial education, and acquiescence to segregation rather than agitation for more extensive civil and political rights.

From the description of Booker T. Washington papers, 1903-1916. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 53905923

African-American educator.

From the description of Letters to D.H. Greer, 1899-1902. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 34336546

Booker T. Washington, the son of a slave and white father, was born on 1856 Apr. 5 in Franklin Co., Va. He worked in a salt furnace and coal mine at Malden, W.Va., and, at the same time, attended school. In 1872 he entered Hampton Institute, Va., where he earned his board by working as a janitor, and graduated in 1875. He was a school teacher at Malden from 1875-1877, and a student at Wayland Seminary, Washington, D.C., from 1877-1879. He taught at Hampton Institute, where he was in charge of the Indian dormitory and the night school.

In 1881 he was chosen to organize, at Tuskegee, Ala., a normal school chartered by the Ala. Legislature. Washington founded there the Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes, now called Tuskegee University.

He soon became the foremost advocate of Negro education and was active as a public speaker on race relations, stressing industrial education and gradual adjustment rather than political and civil rights.

On 1915 Nov. 14 Washington died at Tuskegee.

From the description of Collection, 1897, 1904, n.d. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122581800

Biographical Note

  • 1856, Apr. 5: Born, Franklin County, Va.
  • 1875: Graduated from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute,Hampton, Va.
  • 1878 - 1879 : Attended Wayland Seminary,Washington, D.C.
  • 1881: Founded and became the first principal of the Normal School for Colored Teachers at Tuskegee, Ala.
  • 1882: Married Fannie N. Smith (died 1884)
  • 1885: Married Olivia A. Davidson (died 1889)
  • 1893: Married Margaret James Murray
  • 1895: “Separate as the Fingers” speech, Cotton States and International Exposition,Atlanta, Ga.
  • 1896: Received honorary degree from Harvard University,Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1900: Organized the National Negro Business League
  • 1901: Published Up From Slavery (New York: Doubleday, Page, and Co. 330 pp.)
  • 1915, Nov. 14: Died, Tuskegee, Ala.

From the guide to the Booker T. Washington Papers, 1853-1946, (bulk 1900-1915), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was an African-American educator, writer and civil rights activist who was most famous for his founding of the Tuskegee Institute. He was born into slavery April 5 on the plantation of James Burroughs in Hale's Ford, Franklin County, Virginia. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Washington and his family moved to Malden, West Virginia, where he worked in a salt mine in the mornings and afternoons, attending elementary school in the interim hours. At seventeen, he was accepted into the Hampton Institute in Virginia under the caveat that he work to pay his board. He graduated in 1875 and later returned to teach night school. This eventually led to his being chosen to found the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, a teachers' college for black students.

Washington was also a prolific writer, editor and speaker. He was an advocate for cooperation and equality between races, and an opponent of racism. He worked and clashed with other prominent African American activists such as W.E.B. DuBois, and he worked with other famous personages like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. His autobiography, Up From Slavery, was published in 1901 and became a best seller. His tireless work for the advancement of the black community was continuous up until his death on Nov. 14, 1915, which was attributed to overwork and hypertension.

From the guide to the Booker T. Washington Letters, 1896-1912, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

  • 1856 April 5: Born a slave on a plantation Franklin County, Va., to an illiterate mother and white father.
  • 1872 - 1875 : Went to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute; studied brick masonry along with collegiate courses.
  • 1876: Graduated from Hampton; taught in a rural school for two years.
  • 1878 - 79 : Studied at Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. Became convinced that practical manual training in rural skills and crafts would save his race.
  • 1879: Taught and supervised 100 American Indians admitted to Hampton Institute on an experimental basis.
  • 1881 - 1915 : Organizer and President of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. With the help of his students he built a kiln to make blocks to be used for campus buildings.
  • 1832: Married Fannie McKinney who died 1384; had one child from this union.
  • 1885: Married second wife, Olivia A. Davidson; died 1888; had two sons by her.
  • 1893: Married third wife, Maggie J. Murray.
  • 1895: Gave famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech - urged blacks to concentrate on improving job skills and their usefulness instead of pushing for political and social rights.
  • 1896: Won honorary A.M. degree from Harvard University.
  • 1900: Founded National Negro Business League.
  • 1902: Received LL. D. from Dartmouth College.
  • 1915 Nov. 14: Died.

From the guide to the Booker T. Washington Collection, 1885-1914, (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University)


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  • Franklin County, VA, US
  • Tuskegee, AL, US
  • United States, 00, US