Southern Education Board

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The Southern Education Board was established in 1901 as the executive branch of the Conference for Education in the South, which was founded after a series of meetings, 1898-1900, held at Capon Springs, W. Va. The Board worked primarily to promote education, especially rural education, in the South. It disbanded in 1914. Prominent Board members included Robert C. Ogden (1836-1913), pres.; Charles D. McIver (1860- 1908), sec.; George Foster Peabody (1852-1938), treas.; Edwin A. Alderman (1861-1931); William H. Baldwin (1863-1905); Wallace Buttrick (1853-1926); J.L.M. Curry (1825-1903); Charles W. Dabney (1855-1945); George Sherwood Dickerman (1843-1937); Hollis B. Frissell (1851-1917); H.H. Hanna; Walter Hines Page (1855-1918); and Albert Shaw (1857-1947).

From the description of Southern Education Board records, 1898-1925. WorldCat record id: 26380364

The Southern Education Board was founded at Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1901 as the executive board of the Conference for Education in the South, which was formalized earlier that year. The background for both of these organizations was a series of Conferences on Christian Education in the South. At these gatherings, representatives from various professions and organizations with a common interest in education met to talk about problems particular to the South. In 1900, the group chose an agent, G. S. Dickerman, to collect information and report on educational conditions in the region. At the meeting that year, Robert C. Ogden, a wealthy New York City businessman, suggested that they create a permanent organization to work for popular education in the South. The Conference was founded the following January.

The Conference for Education in the South was a popular or mass organization to which anyone could belong, and whose major function was to sponsor annual open meetings. The Southern Education Board, its executive arm, did the work of the Conference between meetings. Specifically, the Board was charged with conducting a publicity campaign for education in the South, and with acting as a Bureau of Information and Advice for individuals and school systems interested in improving education. The first Board consisted of Robert C. Ogden (1836-1913), president; educator Charles D. McIver (1860-1906), secretary; philanthropist George Foster Peabody (1852-1938), treasurer; statesman, author, and educator J. L. M. Curry (1825-1903); chemist, agriculturist, and college president Charles W. Dabney (1855-1945); educator and orator Edwin A. Alderman (1861-1931); Presbyterian clergyman and principal of Hampton Institute Hollis B. Frissell (1851-1917); Baptist clergyman and educator Wallace Buttrick (1853-1926); William H. Baldwin (1863-1905); Albert Shaw (1857-1947); Walter Hines Page (1855-1918); and H. H. Hanna.

The Board continued in its original purpose and organization until 1914. With Dabney as director, the Bureau of Investigation and Information sent agents into the South to study the conditions of state schools. In 1906, they began focusing in particular on rural schools, and, in 1909, the Board cooperated with the Peabody Fund to pay state supervisors of rural schools. The Peabody Fund had been established in 1866 to promote the growth of schools in the war-ravaged South. For the next few years, this was the most important function of the Board, along with organizing annual conferences. Also in 1909, the Board became interested in organizing farmers and improving agriculture. In its final years of activity it worked also on community development.

A number of other organizations were related to or associated with the Conference for Education in the South and the Southern Education Board. The most important was the General Education Board, which was established in 1902 by John D. Rockefeller to facilitate the promotion of education in the United States. The General Education Board made appropriations to state universities to develop high schools. Also related to the Conference were the Slater Fund, established in 1882 by industrialist John F. Slater for the support of African American schools; the farm demonstration movement; and boys' and girls' clubs. The Southern Education Board generated state-level organizations including Improvement Associations and Cooperative Associations.

After the death of Robert C. Ogden in 1913 and the dissolution of the Peabody Fund in 1914, the Southern Education Board encountered financial and political difficulties that led to a number of reorganizations, including a merger with the Southern Educational Association, a professional organization. In 1915, the two groups formed the Southern Conference for Education and Industry. The Southern Education Board continued as the executive committee of the Southern Conference for Education and Industry until its first conference. During that time, Albert Pike Bourland (1861-1927) acted as executive secretary and treasurer, and the Southern Education Board relinquished the job of supervising rural schools to the General Education Board, keeping only the responsibility for planning conferences. After the 1915 meeting, the Southern Education Board disbanded, and Bourland became the executive secretary of the Southern Conference for Education and Industry.

The financial troubles of the Southern Conference for Education and Industry continued, however. In 1916, it organized a Chautauqua of the South, a summer program of education and entertainment, with the hope that the program's profits would be sufficient for funding the work of the Conference. Bourland devoted much time and energy to the project, but the Chautauqua was never more than a minor success. By 1919, it was only a music program, and it was discontinued in 1920. At the same time, the Conference was undergoing changes. In 1916, it became the Southern Education Association, but the name was quickly changed to the Southern Education Council and then to the Southern Education Society. While the name changed, the organization remained the same: it was a group of select men, with membership by election and requiring dues, gathered to work on improving southern education. By 1920, Bourland was fighting to keep some kind of organization alive, but, in 1921, even he gave up and left the organization for a job at the Department of Extension at Winthrop College.

From the guide to the Southern Education Board Records, 1898-1925, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn University of Florida. Office of the President. Administrative policy records, 1909-1927. University of Florida
creatorOf Southern Education Board. Southern Education Board records, 1898-1925. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Alabama. Dept. of Education (1919- ). Community organization materials, state publications, 1913-1950 and n.d. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Coon, Charles L. (Charles Lee), 1868-1927. Charles L. Coon papers, 1775-1931. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Dillard, Avarene Lippincott. Papers of the Dillard family, 1717-1964. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Curry, J. L. M. (Jabez Lamar Monroe), 1825-1903. Papers of J. L. M. Curry, 1637-1939 (bulk 1866-1903). Library of Congress
referencedIn Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918. Letters of Walter Hines Page to Edwin Anderson Alderman [manuscript] 1912-17. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Letters sent to Walter Hines Page from various correspondents, English period, 1876-1937. Houghton Library
creatorOf Southern Education Board. [Pamphlets including circular, etc.]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Mitchell, Samuel Chiles, 1864-1948. An aftermath of Appomattox : a memoir of the life of Samuel Chiles Mitchell 1942. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, American period, 1876-1937. Houghton Library
creatorOf Southern Education Board Records, 1898-1925 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Curry, J. L. M. (Jabez Lamar Monroe), 1825-1903. Papers of J. L. M. Curry, 1786-1903. Library of Congress
referencedIn McIver, Charles Duncan, 1860-1906. Chancellor Charles Duncan McIver records, 1855-1906. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University Libraries, UNCG University Libraries
referencedIn Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (Albert Alexander Murphree), 1906-1933 Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Southern States
African Americans--Education--History--20th century
Community development--History--20th century
Education--History--20th century
African Americans--Social conditions
African Americans--Social life and customs
School children--Photographs
Education, Rural--History--20th century
Women--Education--History--20th century
Agriculture--History--20th century
Community and school--History--20th century

Corporate Body

Active 1898

Active 1925



Ark ID: w6zh1r79

SNAC ID: 31987437