In the 1920s -1930s, as part of a large-scale rebuilding campaign spearheaded by the Delaware School Auxiliary Association (DSAA), industrialist and philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont, funded the construction of modern, architect designed schools across the state of Delaware. The campaign included 90 schools for African American and Native American students during this time of legally imposed segregation.
From 2020 to 2022, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, partnered with the University of Delaware’s Center For Historic Architecture and Design and the statewide nonprofit Preservation Delaware Inc. to chronicle the history of Delaware’s DuPont “Colored” Schools. The project included a survey to locate and document the schools, interviews with former students from several of the schools and finally this Story Map that shares the results of this important work.
The Locating Delaware’s DuPont “Colored” Schools Story Map summarizes the University of Delaware’s project, including sections on the History and Architecture of the schools, a Summary of the Findings and Project Details. The Story Map also includes a brief summary of Preservation Delaware Inc.’s oral history work with 26 former students.
An interactive map identifies the location of each school with attached documentation and photos. Links to the oral history video and audio recordings, with transcripts, are attached to the referenced schools.
The Story Map also provides links to additional resources, including full reports from the University of Delaware and Preservation Delaware on their respective projects, links to other interviews held in the University of Delaware and Hagley collections, and a context on African American Education in Delaware by Dr. Bradley Skelcher.
ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY OF THE SCHOOLS
The goal of the architectural survey was to identify the location of all 90 DuPont schools that were built for African American and Native American students, determine how many remain standing and which may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The University of Delaware’s Center For Historic Architecture and Design located 84 of the schools. The sites of six schools (Kirkwood in New Castle County; Brownsville, Hammondtown and Peterson’s in Kent County; Millsboro and Muddy Neck in Sussex County) are still unidentified. As of 2020, 48 of the 84 schools were still standing. Eight of the schools are already listed in the National Register. Another 20 schools were preliminarily determined to be eligible for listing; further work would be necessary to formally nominate these schools.
Check out the Story Map for more details.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Preservation Delaware Inc. conducted interviews of 26 former students of six schools (two from each of Delaware’s three counties). Ranging in age from 67 to 102 years at the time of the interviews, the participants shared recollections of their experiences attending school from the late 1920s through the 1960s. Oral histories were recorded for Hockessin School 107-C, Howard High School, Thomas D. Clayton School 135-C (Smyrna), State College Colored High School, Richard Allen School 223-C (Georgetown) and Rabbit’s Ferry School 201-C.
The Story Map includes links to the video and audio recordings and transcripts.
Related Topics: African American, Black history, Education, History