Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.)

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The Institute for Colored Youth was founded in 1837 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It became the first high school for African-Americans in the United States, although there were schools that admitted African Americans preceding it. At the time, public policy and certain statutory provisions prohibited the education of blacks in various parts of the nation and slavery was entrenched across the south. It was followed by two other black institutions— Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1854), and Wilberforce University in Ohio (1856). The second site of the Institute for Colored Youth at Ninth and Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is also known as the Samuel J. Randall School. A three-story, three-bay brick building was built for it in 1865, in the Italianate-style. After moving to Cheyney, Pennsylvania in Delaware County, Pennsylvania its name was changed to Cheyney University.

The Institute was founded by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one-tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate people of African descent. Born on a plantation in the West Indies, Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764, where he became concerned about the struggles of free African Americans to make a living. News of the Cincinnati riots of 1829 prompted Humphreys to write his will, in which he charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution "to instruct the descendants of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic Arts, trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers...."

Using the money Humphreys bequeathed, the Quakers formed an organization in 1837. For several years, they experimented with agricultural and industrial education, as well as trade apprenticeships for African-American children. By 1851, the Managers, as the Quakers came to be called, instead decided to focus on Humphreys's wish to train African-American children to become teachers. In 1852, the Managers opened the first Institute for Colored Youth building at 716–718 Lombard Street in Philadelphia. Grace A. Mapps was appointed head of the 'Female Department'.

The Noyes Academy in New Hampshire preceded it and there had been efforts to establish a college for African Americans in New Haven, Connecticut but efforts to form the college were stopped by opposition from whites and the school was destroyed in mob attacks. Prudence Crandall was not allowed to admit an African American girl to her Canterbury Female Boarding School. She converted the boarding school to one for only African American girls, but was jailed for her efforts and a Black Law was passed in the state. The school closed after mob attacks.

Although operated by the Quaker Board of Managers, the faculty of the Institute for Colored Youth were entirely African-American men and women. The Institute contained both Boys' and Girls' High Schools, as well as a Preparatory School (sometimes known as the Brown Preparatory School). The school provided a classical education to young African Americans in Philadelphia, with a curriculum including advanced mathematics, sciences, English, philosophy, various social sciences, and classical languages.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. Letters signed by Booker T. Washington, 1896-1914 [manuscript] Haverford College Library
referencedIn Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Committee on Discipline and Instruction. Minutes, [microform] Institute for Colored Youth, Committee on Discipline and Instruction, 1871-1884. Haverford College Library
referencedIn Vaux, George, 1908-1996. Family papers, 1885-1995. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
referencedIn Richard Humphreys Foundation. Records, 1837-1982. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
referencedIn Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Corporation. Minutes of annual meetings of Corporation, [microform] 1837-1922. Haverford College Library
creatorOf Richard Humphreys Foundation. Records, 1837-1982. Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
creatorOf Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Corporation. Minutes of annual meetings of Corporation, [microform] 1837-1922. Haverford College Library
referencedIn Richard Humphreys Legacy. Trustees minutes [microform] : Richard Humphrey [i.e., Humphreys] Legacy, 1832-1838. Haverford College Library
referencedIn Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Council of Trustees records, 1832-1985. Cheyney University, L. P. Hill Library
creatorOf Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Managers minutes, [microform] 1837-1914. Haverford College Library
referencedIn Stevens-Cogdell-Sanders-Venning collection, 1734-1976 Library company of Philadelphia
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
employerOf Bouchet, Edward Alexander, 1852-1918 person
associatedWith Cheyney Training School for Teachers. corporateBody
associatedWith Cheyney Training School for Teachers. Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Cogdell family
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth at Cheyney. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth at Cheyney. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth at Cheyney. Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Committee on Discipline and Instruction. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Colored Youth (Philadelphia, Pa.). Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Humphreys Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Humphreys Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Humphreys Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Humphreys Legacy. corporateBody
associatedWith Sanders family
associatedWith Stevens family
associatedWith Vaux, George, 1908-1996. person
associatedWith Venning family
associatedWith Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Pennsylvania
Subject
Church work with African Americans
Society of Friends
African American universities and colleges
African Americans
African American teachers
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Establishment 1837

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