Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James W. Beers


In 2003, the Virginia Department of Education authorized a committee of 11 teachers to write a report detailing Virginia's public education history. The committee drafted a document that provided a chronological account of the major developments in public education in Virginia from 1607 to 2003. The document provided minimal coverage of the history of Virginia's African American population, specifically during the Antebellum (1830s-1860s) and Reconstruction (1865-1871) eras. The history of public education for Virginia's African American population, 1865-1870, was completely omitted from the document. The post-Civil-War era was a critical time period in both United States and Virginia educational history because it witnessed the development of the first public grammar, secondary, and higher education institutions for southern African Americans through the efforts of the federal government and Northern religious and secular organizations.;This dissertation researches the actions of the federal government, specifically the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands, the work of benevolent and freedmen aid societies of the North, the actions of African Americans, and the legislative work of the Virginia General Assembly to establish a public education system for African Americans in Virginia following the American Civil War. This manuscript uses governmental reports from the commissioners and officials of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands, the minutes and records from benevolent aid societies, minutes from the Virginia Constitution Convention of 1867-1868, and a variety of primary and secondary sources to provide an account of how Virginia's African American population gained access to publicly funded education.



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