A League of Willing Workers: The Impact of Northern Philanthropy, Virginia Estelle Randolph and the Jeanes Teachers in Early Twentieth-Century Virginia
Pincham, Linda B., The Journal of Negro Education
Improvements in southern African American schools and communities in early 20th century Virginia came with the assistance of philanthropic organizations. The Jeanes Fund, in its own right and as a conduit for other philanthropic agencies, helped solve "the rural school problem." The Jeanes Fund recognized the work of Virginia Randolph whose philosophy and teaching techniques were adopted by the Jeanes teachers, a group of African American rural school supervisors, of which Virginia Randolph was the first. This article details the work of Virginia Randolph and the Jeanes teachers, illustrating how their contributions throughout the South earned accolades for local school and community improvements.
In the early twentieth century, very little attention from local public school boards was given to southern, rural African American schools. Reflecting that neglect, the conditions of those schools were quite inferior to the White schools within the same community. The term "rural school problem" describes the major challenges that African Americans in Virginia and throughout the South faced in their communities and schools. Students were often housed in overcrowded, dilapidated, and unsanitary buildings. There was no compulsory education law; therefore, school attendance was poor. For example, schools could be deserted for several weeks due to inclement weather, illnesses, and seasonal occupations where students, for instance, depending on the main crop, were needed to work in the home or field to augment the family income. As a result, the continuity of education and learning was broken. Furthermore, most African American teachers were not properly educated, many having only slightly more education than their pupils. Poor living conditions prevailed in the community, and very few resources, if any, were available to assist totally indigent families.
All these problems were set in the political, legal, and economic climate of "Jim Crow" and resulted in large part from that ideology. The Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decision of the United States Supreme Court legitimized the idea of "separate but equal" for Virginia and her sister southern states. The root notion of "Jim Crow," continuously promoted the belief that African Americans were inferior to Whites, and that they should be kept in a servile condition. The South embraced the 1896 ruling in all its policies and practices related to African Americans, including educational policies and practices. All African American schools in the South were indeed separate from their White counterparts but were far from being equal. Discrepancies impairing African Americans prevailed in teachers' salaries, expenditures per pupils, appropriations for building schools, and favorable decisions of local superintendents. The Jim Crow era continued into nearly two-thirds of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, great advances occurred in that period in primary and secondary education of African Americans that softened aspects of the "rural school problem."
Explanation for these strides lies beyond legal and political dynamics. Some answers stem from fundamental economics and the individuals themselves within the repressed group, or rather, a combination of these two factors. Anderson and Moss (1999) pithily described the southern states as experiencing a "remarkable educational revival" between 1901 and 1915 (p. 41). By 1920, profound improvements had occurred throughout the South, although Virginia and her southern sister states still lagged behind the nation in education. Nevertheless, southern states saw increases in educational spending, particularly expenditures per pupil, extension of school terms, and drops in illiteracy rates-benefits that improved education for African American children.
THE RURAL SCHOOL PROBLEM
In 1902, John D. Rockefeller organized the General Education Board (GEB) in New York to administer funds for the promotion of education in the South. Shortly thereafter, from an extensive survey, the Board concluded that the greatest problem in education for southern African Americans was the "rural school problem." According to Caliver (1935), the rural school problem had several basic contours: the educational facilities, the quality of education, and teacher training.
In the wake of the early twentieth century, one and two-room schoolhouses were scattered throughout the various districts in Virginia. However, disparities between the education for African Americans and Whites were evident. There was a significant difference in the number of schools in proportion to the number of students and teachers at each school, the number of indigent children supplied with textbooks and school supplies, and major differences in African American and White teachers' salaries. Documented in the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Virginia (1915), the number of schools for Whites exceeded disproportionately the number of schools for African Americans in every district in Henrico County, Virginia. To illustrate, the Varina district had 610 White students, only 16 students more than African American students in the same district, which had a total of 594 students; yet there were eleven schools with eleven teachers for White students and only six schools for African American students with six teachers (Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Virginia, 1915). Needless to say, overcrowding of schools was an issue for African American students and teachers in this district. Salary differences were also outlined. In the Varina district, White male teachers earned a monthly salary of $75.00 as compared to their African American male counterpart of $33.82 and African American female teacher at $27.25 (Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Virginia, 1915).
Schoolhouses for African American children were inferior educational facilities and generally had common features. They were crudely built and were almost always dilapidated or rundown. They were unusable in some winter months due to holes in the roof or on the sides of the buildings. There were unsanitary conditions; drinking water was shared by the use of a bucket and a common dipper, and children used open outside toilets with no water for hand washing. The textbooks and supplies for the classrooms were outdated and worn. In addition, students walked three, sometimes four miles to school in good weather and bad. School custodians were nonexistent; therefore, both teachers and students performed janitorial duties. Moreover, the overall quality of instruction in these schoolhouses reflected the deficiencies in teacher training and certification. Recruiting and retaining an adequate supply of qualified teachers proved to be quite a challenge.
THE ASSISTANCE AND INFLUENCE OF NORTHERN PHILANTHROPIC FOUNDATIONS
In the early twentieth century, several philanthropic foundations existed that worked directly for the advancement of education for African Americans in the South: the Peabody Fund, which established training of African American teachers; the John F. Slater Fund, which developed educational facilities; the Phelps-Stokes Fund, which provided generally for the education of Blacks in Africa as well as the United States; the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which aided in school building; the Rockefeller-funded GEB and the Southern Education Fund, Inc, which both funded teacher supervision; and the Anna T. Jeanes Fund, which provided teacher supervision and industrial education.
Originally established by George Peabody in 1867, the Peabody Fund's major focus was to help the South recover from the ravages of the Civil War. As the first multi-million dollar educational foundation in America, the Fund directly influenced many other foundations, contributing to teacher training by establishing normal schools (Smith, 1950). Before the final disposition of its funds in 1914, the resources from the Peabody Fund were used for the employment of the first state agents or teacher supervisors, of African American schools, which were adopted in Virginia.
The John F. Slater Fund was the first large fund established in 1911 directly for the advancement of education for African Americans in the South, specifically to establish county training schools. The phrase "county training schools" was a euphemism for high schools established for rural teacher preparation (Anderson & Moss, 1999). These were larger schools, designed to serve as model schools for each county district. The John F. Slater Fund also assisted in the maintenance of these county training schools. The Fund imposed strict guidelines: school property must be part of the state, county, or district public school system; teachers must have a specified sum for their salaries from public funds; teaching had to be carried throughout the eighth grade, with the intention of adding two grades each year; and the school term must extend to at least eight months (Jones, 1937). As a result of the Slater Fund, centrally located general schools were converted into county training schools (also known as "consolidated schools" in some southern states) with little additional public expense.
The Phelps-Stokes Fund, established by Caroline Phelps Stokes in 1909, concentrated on education for African Americans. Stokes designated in her will that the income of her estate be used for aid to African American primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. She also specified that part of the fund be used to support a statistical clearinghouse to investigate and publish reports on the various problems associated with African American schools.
The Julius Rosenwald Fund, incorporated in 1917 by Julius Rosenwald, president of SearsRoebuck, almost exclusively assisted African American schools, conducting the largest, most dramatic rural school building program for African Americans in the southern states. In promoting the principle of "self-help" Rosenwald stated, "Should any of our projects become permanently dependent upon our help, we should feel that we had failed" (McCormick, 1934, p. 605). Applying this principle, the Board of Trustees agreed to give any rural community the sum of $300 to erect a school building contingent upon several requirements: (a) it should represent common effort by the state government, county authorities, and local African American and White citizens ( e.g., the state and county must contribute to the building and agree to maintain it as a regular part of the public school system); (b) White citizens should show interest by contributing part of the money or land; and (c) African Americans must prove their commitment to education by donating money and labor (Embree & Waxman, 1949). In Virginia, from 1917 to 1932, 381 buildings for African American schools were erected as a direct result of the Rosenwald Fund (Embree, 1936). In addition to building schoolhouses for African Americans, the Rosenwald Fund extended to related services for African American children, such as school libraries, school transportation to consolidated schools, extensions of school terms by one or two months, and repairs and beautification of existing schools (Embree, 1936).
John D. Rockefeller organized the GEB in 1902 to administer funds to promote education in the South. The Board's primary purpose was to establish or endow elementary or primary schools for teachers, for both African Americans and Whites, or schools of any grade, or institutions of higher learning. The Fund also donated money to purchase property to establish these schools. Similar to the Phelps-Stokes Fund, the GEB served as a statistical clearinghouse and publisher of information.
The Anna T. Jeanes Fund was later known as the Negro Rural School Fund. The original funds for the Negro Rural School Fund were merged with other funds to expand the services and programs. Later, as a tribute to Virginia Randolph, it was combined with the Virginia Randolph Fund on December 17, 1936 (Witty, 1992). On July 1, 1937, the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) was created as the result of a merger of several educational funds, including the Peabody, Slater, Jeanes, and the Virginia Randolph Fund (Witty, 1992). The SEF extended the work of the Jeanes supervisors throughout the South and overseas.
THE WORK OF VIRGINIA ESTELLE RANDOLPH
A Virginian, Virginia Estelle Randolph, significantly altered her state's African American education programs. Her work and that of the Jeanes teachers, discussed later, greatly assisted local, rural schools and their communities in early twentieth-century Virginia. Those schools and communities overcame many of the obstacles that African Americans faced from the rural school problem.
Born on June 8, 1874 in Richmond, Virginia, Randolph began teaching at the Old Mountain Road School in Henrico County, Virginia, at the age of eighteen. She was educated during the stormy Reconstruction period of the South. Although the daughter of former slaves, Randolph became a teacher by the time she was 16 years old and taught in Goochland County, Virginia. She passed the examination for teachers interested in the rural sections of Virginia. Because of Randolph's young age, her uncle had to sign for her employment before she was given her school in Goochland (Jones, 1937). It was at the Old Mountain Road School, which was later named for Randolph and was the first high school in Henrico County to be accredited, where Randolph made noteworthy accomplishments.
When Virginia Randolph came to the Old Mountain Road School, she was confronted with deplorable conditions that were typical of most African American schools in Virginia during the early twentieth century. She described the school as "old, bare within and without, and stood on a roughly cleared patch of ground by the side of a hilly road in which the visitor's buggy would sink at times to the wheel hub" (Jones, 1937, p. 25). The obstacles facing Randolph were not unusual, and they did not stop her youthful optimism. Randolph's immediate goal was to improve the grounds of the school. Using $7.50 from her first month's salary of $25.00, she purchased gravel for the road leading to the school. She received free lawn grass from a member of the community. With these minimal resources, she made the schoolyard look more attractive.
Getting the community's interest and involvement in the school presented a major challenge for Randolph. In order to attract attention, she organized unusual activities. For example, she held an Arbor Day exercise, where she arranged for one member each from twelve families to plant a tree. As a result, twelve sycamore trees were planted at the school, each named after one of the twelve apostles (Semmes, 1947). Her idea immediately created interest in the parents in the community, and they began to invest time in the care and upkeep of the trees. The trees remain standing today as living monuments in front of the Virginia Randolph Museum in Glen Alien, Virginia. The sycamore trees were named the first National Historic Trees in Virginia, and the museum was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 by the United States Department of Interior, National Park Service (Witty, 1992).
Randolph devised more strategies to involve specific groups from the community. Her Patrons Improvement League, composed mainly of adult males, whitewashed the school building. The League regularly swept and cleaned the building and beautified the schoolhouse by adding vines and flowers around it. They were also responsible for maintaining a firm pathway, especially for rainy seasons and winter months. Randolph's League of Willing Workers was another group composed mainly of adult females who became responsible for raising money for school beautification projects. Yet, another fundraising club, the School Improvement Club, was composed of both parents and pupils. Like the League of Willing Workers, the School Improvement Club maintained the trees, hedges, and rosebushes that were planted by the groups. The members in this club paid five cents per month, and it was their responsibility to look after the yard throughout the year. To engage the parents further, Randolph established a Patrons Day, designed to get the parents to come to the school. In addition, she launched a Better Homes campaign, a program that emphasized cleanliness and using odds and ends to brighten the home. All of these tactics influenced parents and community members to be active advocates of their children and school.
Randolph has been quoted as saying, "The education a child gets out of a book isn't going to do him much good if he doesn't know how to use his hands" (Semmes, 1947, p. 6). Her approach to vocational pedagogy was dynamic. She would often let her students see her work outdoors in the field because, as she said, "I felt if they saw me doing things, they might do likewise" (Semmes, 1947, p. 6). Consequently, Miss Randolph introduced simple forms of vocational and agricultural work, or industrial training, at the school. Boys were taught how to use tools; girls were taught how to cook.
The sixteen years Virginia Randolph taught at the Old Mountain Road School brought conflict and disappointment, as well as success. Randolph was constantly involved in raising money for school improvements, chiefly through entertainment and donations of pay from student labor in the community. Unfortunately, parents did not always accept her ideas. They became impatient and sometimes irate with Randolph because they wanted their children to learn from books, not manual labor. Randolph related an incident where a group of vocal parents prepared and submitted a petition that demanded her removal from the school. Although the county superintendent ignored the petition, many of the parents tried to keep their children from attending the school. However, the parents had very little success, because according to Randolph, the children ignored their parents and still tried to attend her school.
Virginia Randolph never stopped searching for new ideas. She visited progressive schools for White children to examine their curriculum and methods, asking the White teachers for help and suggestions. She remained steadfast in seeking ways to raise money for school improvements. When she organized a Sunday school, she sought ways to secure Bibles, books, and an organ, donated by Joseph Bryan, the father of the chairman of the school board at that time (Witty, 1992). During her tenure at the Old Mountain Road School, she raised a total of $5,000 for school improvements (Maggie L. Walker personal communication to George E. Haynes, July 1926).
Randolph's outstanding efforts were recognized in 1905 when Dr. Jackson Davis, Henrico County's school superintendent, visited the Old Mountain Road School. He said of Randolph:
Here was a teacher who thought of her work in terms of the welfare of the whole community, and had the school as an agency to help the people to live better, to do their work with more skill and intelligence, and to do it in the spirit of ncighborliness." (Jones, 1937, p. 33)
Dr. Davis was so impressed with Miss Randolph's work that he arranged for her to visit other rural schools in the county one or two days a week. He assisted her efforts by providing a substitute teacher for the Mountain Road School when Miss Randolph was absent. He wanted Miss Randolph to pass on to others her ideas in education, showing the teachers how to use their hands and organize their work. When Randolph assumed this new role, she was faced with the dilemma of being both a teacher and supervisor, with almost all the difficulties coming from her fellow colleagues. The teachers she supervised in Henrico County became jealous and often insubordinate. They criticized how she dressed, hinting that she had no special training. Most of all, they objected to what they perceived as "being shown like children" how to perform their job, resenting that Randolph took any part in the instruction of their own pupils. Dr. Davis recognized the conflicts and proposed to Randolph the title of full-time industrial supervisor. The Board, unfortunately, would not support a professional who had not taught full time at a single school. Davis then had to seek other means to fund this newly created position of county supervisor.
CREATION OF THE HENRICO PLAN
Anna Thomas Jeancs, born in 1822, was a Quaker of Philadelphia. She became the sole survivor in her family and accordingly inherited all the family's accumulated fortune. She made contributions to all the non-sectarian charities as well as the Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia. She funded the construction of and endowed The Friends Boarding House, a home for the aged and the in firmed, located in Gcrmantown, Pennsylvania. She resided there the last years before her death in 1907.
Two years before her death, Dr. Hollis B. Frissell, the Principal of Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and Dr. Booker T. Washington, of Tuskcgee Institute in Alabama, visited Anna Jeanes, hoping to interest her in the innovative work that they were doing in their schools. Although Jeanes was interested in both Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes, she said, "Others have given to the large schools; if I could, I should like to help the little country schools" (Brawley, 1933, p. 57). Thus, in 1907, Jeanes set aside a fund of one million dollars for the fostering of rudimentary education in small, African American rural schools to "encourage moral influence and social refinement which shall promote peace in the land, and goodwill among men" (Will of Anna T. Jeanes, 1907, p. iii). In her will, she stipulated that President-elect William Howard Taft, Andrew Carnegie, Hollis B. Frissell of Hampton Institute, Booker T. Washington; and George Foster Peabody should be members of the first Board of Trustees for her fund. Interestingly, of all the educational foundations then existing, the Jeanes Fund was the only one that had African Americans on its Board, Hollis B. Frissell and Booker T. Washington.
Anna Jeanes wanted the fund to be named Fund for Rudimentary Schools for Southern Negroes. However, the legal title of the fund became Negro Rural School Fund, Anna T. Jeanes Foundation. It was also known as the "Anna T. Jeanes Fund," or more simply, the "Jeanes Fund." Because of the fund's purpose of financing elementary and secondary education in rural schools, its Board labored long over allocating the million-dollar endowment. The Board received many requests for help and suggestions for use of the funds, including county superintendents who sent the Board letters requesting aid for their African American schools. Thus, repeatedly the Board faced the question: "How best could the limited income of the Fund be made to count for the greatest good to the greatest number over so large an area" (Dillard, 1923, p. 196)?
Among the letters from the county superintendents was one reading:
I am anxious to make industrial training an essential part of the work in the Negro schools in Henrico County.... Many of the schools have organized Improvement Leagues in their communities and have made the school buildings and grounds more attractive....They have also made a beginning with various kinds of hand-work, such as sewing, making baskets of white oak, mats of corn shucks, fishing nets...using materials already at hand.... (Jones, 1937, p. 199)
This fateful letter to the Board came from Jackson Davis, Superintendent of Henrico County, Virginia. He appealed to James Hardy Dillard, the fund's president, for aid to pay the salary of an industrial supervisor who would be employed under what he entitled the "Henrico Plan."
The Henrico Plan enlisted the idea of improving rural, African American schools through the work of an "industrial supervisor" who would serve in every rural school in the entire county, performing work of a type already begun by Virginia Randolph. Dillard especially wanted to see the academic studies side by side with vocational education in the rural schools in Henrico County, Virginia. He believed this approach would develop initiative, responsibility, and self-help in the rural communities. He further believed the Henrico Plan would ultimately change the attitudes of African Americans from indifference or hostility to active support once they could see their own schools playing a vital part in enhancing the entire life of the community. Impressed by Davies' request, Dillard granted the necessary funds for a salary of $40.00 a month for nine months. This subsidized the salary for Virginia Randolph, the first Jeanes supervisor. In time, not only did Randolph work as supervisor in Virginia, but she also worked in North Carolina and Georgia as well.
As a condition to her salary, the Jeanes Fund requested an annual written report from Randolph. In A Brief Report of the Manual Training Work Done in the Colored Schools of Henrico County, Virginia for Session 1908-1909 (Randolph, 1909), Virginia Randolph documented reports for each of the twenty-three schools she visited, including the amount of industrial work done and in the general improvements accomplished. Dillard claimed the report was straightforward, and it told the story so well. The Jeanes Fund printed a thousand copies and mailed them to county superintendents throughout the South. Dillard authorized using the plan in eleven other counties in Virginia. Beyond Virginia, county superintendents from all over the South requested additional information regarding the Henrico Plan. Then requests for aid from the Jeanes Fund poured in so that the plan could be adonted.
The Henrico Plan was indeed a success. Dillard visited Henrico County himself to see the work of Randolph and her successes and leadership as a Jeanes teacher, and he was deeply impressed with her progress. Dr. Dillard later referred to Davis and Randolph as the "inventors of the real Jeanes plan" (Dillard, 1923, p. 47). During the summer of 1912, the Rockefeller endowed GEB, mentioned earlier, invited state education superintendents of all the southern states to meet at Hampton Institute to hear Virginia Randolph explain her methods in her simple, dignified way.
Soon, an influx of supervising teachers became prominent throughout the South. They became known as "supervising industrial teachers" and were called "Jeanes supervising industrial teachers," "Jeanes supervisors," "Jeanes agents," or "Jeanes teachers." By the 1950s, their titles changed to Jeanes curriculum directors. Some of them were supervisors for an entire county; others were supervisors for only a part. Several county school boards began to assist in the teachers' efforts by providing small grants to aid transportation. By 1909-1910, one hundred twenty-nine Jeanes teachers were working in 130 counties of thirteen states (Jones, 1937). Dillard wrote that the Jeanes plan was successful in the southern states because the Jeanes teachers enlisted the energy and insight of local school people as well as people in the community. In addition, according to Dillard, the Jeanes teachers were free to do anything they deemed fit for the educational benefit of the community and the schools. The Jeanes teacher movement was so popular with the African American schools and communities that it remained in place until 1968. With desegregation came federally funded programs that supplied schools with educational specialists, such as directors of special programs, reading consultants, and instructional assistants-most of whom were White and not African American. There was no longer a proper "fit" or a proper place for the Jeanes teachers, the supervisors of African American schools and communities who were once perceived as being the influential and powerful personalities in the local schools and communities. The majority of them returned to classrooms as teachers.
However, the work of Randolph and the Jeanes teachers did make a lasting impact. Their efforts gained a widespread reputation for school beautification throughout Virginia. This success was consistent with growing general educational perspective of that period. For example, Virginia's governor, William Hodges Mann, wrote in his Annual Report for the Department of Public Instruction (1921):
It is...delightful...to find well-painted, well-kept schoolhouses, surrounded by beautiful grounds, planted with trees and flowers. Such schools would show the care of teachers and pupils, would leave more pleasant memories of the old school in years to come, and would make better pupils and citizens of our children... .beautiful schools would have an influence for good upon the entire community. If the school is to become a social center, let us see to it that it is a beautiful spot, and let all citizens help in the good work.... 1921 could see the last poorly kept schoolhouse and bare school ground in Virginia.
Like Randolph, the Jeanes teachers gained fame for raising money within their communities to help support their schools. R. C. Stearnes, Virginia's state superintendent in 1914, remarked how these teachers raised from private contributions "much more than the entire cost of the system" and how the Jeanes teachers "have revolutionized Negro school and home life in Virginia" (Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1914, p. 22). He also noted in the report that thirtyeight Jeanes teachers with 996 teachers under them, had remarkably raised $33,688.67 through the school leagues, similarly to the groups organized by Virginia Randolph described above (Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1914, p. 22).
ROLES OF THE JEANES TEACHERS
The Jeanes teachers who followed Randolph were all African American, primarily female. Like Virginia Randolph, they had the unique ability to both teach and lead. Unlike Randolph, who began her career much earlier, practically all of them enjoyed higher education, receiving training from Hampton, Tuskegee, Virginia Normal (currently Virginia State), Fisk, Atlanta, or Spelman. They began their careers as teachers of young students, then of other teachers, and finally becoming supervisors when the rural teachers had learned enough to carry on in their own schools and communities.
Most of the Jeanes teachers worked only during the school year, which was usually short. Due in part to their efforts, the school year gradually lengthened. Still, many of the supervisors used the summers to their advantage by organizing activities such as canning and gardening clubs, or attending workshops to enhance their own skills.
The functions of the Jeanes teachers were many, but four major roles stand out, from two perspectives: one, their relationships with the county superintendents of education, the other, their rapport with the teachers, the students, and the community. The county superintendent always appointed the Jeanes teachers; they worked under the superintendent's direction. In some counties, the Jeanes teacher was often regarded as the superintendent's assistant because the teacher visited and reported on the African American schools, relieving the superintendent of that duty. The Jeanes teachers also developed the superintendent's interest in the African American schools by oral and written reports of their work, seeking advice from the higher level, and interpreting the needs and aspirations of the people in the community and schools.
The rural teachers welcomed the Jeanes teachers. These teachers, often working in isolation and in old buildings, found in the Jeanes teachers their "windows to the world." The Jeanes teachers offered suggestions, started classes in sewing and cooking, and by teaching classes, showed teachers how to strengthen their lesson plans. They encouraged the rural teachers to attend summer school for self-improvement.
The Jeanes teachers also aroused ambition and instilled confidence in the students, often motivating them to further their education. Through the organization of clubs for the older boys and girls and the organization of home, garden, or farm projects, the Jeanes teachers encouraged many of the students to stay in school, especially those students who were not advanced academically but who needed vocational training to prepare for the work force. Many Jeanes teachers even helped students find a way to go on to the next large school, college, or university.
Although the Jeanes teachers were never given any specific instructions or guidelines regarding their function in the community, they were noted for their practical social activities by connecting the schools with the needs of the home and larger groups. Because the work of the Jeanes teachers was new, they only gradually learned effective outreach techniques. The method of work suitable for one community might not be suitable for another with different conditions.
The Board of Directors for the Jeanes Fund was well aware that conditions did vary from community to community. Its president, Dr. Dillard, acknowledged in "A Letter to Jeanes Teachers" that the teachers' monthly reports would "show considerable difference in the character of work" (Davis, 1936, p. 27). The advice he offered included descriptions of their ideal functions:
...exercising tact and discretion in dealing with the teachers at the schools visited; showing no desire to usurp authority but wish [sic] to be a helper and co-worker instead; assisting in organizing the people of the community into associations for self-help, for school improvement, for extension of terms, and for sanitation; cooperating with the minister of the community and endeavoring to bring the great influence of the churches to the community; introducing into the schools simple forms of industrial work as needed, especially if it can show the connection between the school and the daily life of the community; and promoting orderliness, promptness, and cleanliness by leading by example, no matter how poor the conditions are. (Davis, p. 27)
Using these guidelines, the Jeanes teachers introduced and supervised simple forms of vocational training. Male and female students separately received a curriculum suitable for their traditional roles. Some of the training documents even included gardening, canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, sanitary housekeeping, dairying, mattress making, blacksmithing, chair seating, and hammock making. Taken together, the Jeanes teachers' activities in vocational training were as varied as the needs of the schools and the communities.
Much of the vocational education that was taught in the communities and schools coincided with activities that were supported by the GEB, such as, farm demonstration programs and the socalled "Homemakers Clubs." The GEB turned its contributions of the Homemakers Clubs for rural work in the direction of larger support for the Jeanes teachers.
PROMOTING THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-HELP
Just as many parents and other community members had rejected Randolph's ideas of promoting simple forms of agricultural and industrial training, local skeptics did not approve vocational training in their schools. Parents did not want the pragmatic curriculum to interfere with the academic work of their children. They wanted their children educated only through books and traditional instruction from the classroom teacher, not through demonstrations of successful functioning in the home, in a factory, or on the farm. However, as time went on, the parents would begin to see the results of vocational training when their children worked with their hands and helped at home. Concurrently, the children took a significant interest for the first time in books and academic learning. The tangible progress of their children motivated the parents to become involved in the schools as well. Thus, the school improvement leagues were increasingly organized throughout the southern, rural counties, as seen before with Randolph's initiation of these structures at the Old Mountain Road School. If a community needed a larger school, the parents raised money for it and would then build it. The results would produce a new sense of ownership, personal pride, and responsibility for the building.
Like Randolph, the Jeanes teachers were not indifferent to the students' home conditions and promoted the self-help principle for home improvement. A male Jeanes teacher reported demonstrating to families by making washstands, tables, wheelbarrows, clothes hangers, and "numerous other articles of usefulness" (Jones, 1937, p. 49). Another Jeanes teacher reported that "the homes of the people have been enlarged and beautified" (Jones, p. 49). One instructor reported, "One house had only two windows. It now has four nice large windows" (Jones, p. 49).
The early work of Virginia Randolph, as a Jeanes teacher, laid a foundation for all the African American teachers who aspired to and became these special teachers or supervisors. Their work was not only well-known for their influential school beautification projects but also for fundraising within their communities to help support the schools. The Jeanes teachers were catalysts for outside, national financial support. Other foundations, particularly the Phelps-Stokes Fund, the GEB, and the SEF, supplemented the Jeanes Fund by donating money to promote the extension of the Jeanes teachers' efforts, helping to pay teacher salaries, and donating money toward building and equipment.
By the end of the 1920s, the pioneering concept of the original Henrico Plan and the work of the Jeanes teachers were so successful that the idea moved beyond Virginia and the other southern states. The vigorous efforts of Randolph and others like her, with their financial supporters, were extended overseas to many sections of Africa, South America, and Asia, greatly influencing schools in impoverished communities outside the United States. Christian missionaries and other philanthropic foundations adopted the philosophy of the Jeanes plan, building several schools thereafter known as Jeanes Schools. Some of the schools documented were the Jeanes Schools in Kenya, the Jeanes School in northern and southern Rhodesia (currently Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), the Kambini Methodist Mission School near Inhambane, Portuguese Africa, and the Jeanes Schools in Liberia and the Belgian Congo (currently Democratic Republic of the Congo, Wright, 1933). The Jeanes plan abroad adopted two methods-the first method where supervising teachers helped local teachers through visitation, and the second method, where supervisors encouraged and assisted the local teachers to adapt their educational teachings to the needs of their pupils and their communities. Wright noted that it was "gratifying that the Jeanes plan and similar plans are gradually relating education to the common needs of the common day for the common people, and especially those of the long-neglected villages and rural districts" (Wright, 1933, p. 167).
In an era of Jim Crow, southern African Americans benefited from the monetary gifts of northern philanthropy-the financial prerequisite for school and community improvements. What was this new economic reality that affected the South despite the challenges of Jim Crow? For the first time, large amounts of money poured into southern African American education. The money was derived not from southern governments and, in the face of White hostility, not from private, southernmonies sources. Instead, northern philanthropy was a major catalyst in the school and community improvement movement. These philanthropic foundations significantly impacted the educational communities of African Americans in Virginia and other parts of the South, assisting in part to solve their "rural school problem" mostly by way of county training schools and industrial education. One speculation is that of agricultural prosperity for the South (Anderson, 1978; Bond, 1934), which placed a high need for industrial education and minimized the need for higher education among African Americans. Industrial education was viewed as a vehicle for African Americans to fit in the southern agricultural economy as wage laborers, sharecroppers, and domestic workers; therefore, it was viewed as a natural environment for African Americans (Anderson, 1978). In October of 1922, the GEB formed a committee to examine the question: "What is the theory or principle underlying the Board's policies in dealing with Negro education?" The answer derived was "The Board's interest is neither sentimental nor merely humanitarian; it is practical" (Anderson, 1978, p. 391). In other words, the economic, social, and educational condition of African Americans affected the South's prosperity, sanitation, and morale. Therefore, providing industrial education to African Americans was a practical effort that not only benefited the African Americans but also the southern economy.
Regardless of the true intent or ulterior motive of northern philanthropy, African American schools and communities experienced educational progress in the early twentieth century. Virginia Randolph had a simple approach to education that centered on involvement of parents and the community, with academic as well as industrial training through clean, inviting, attractive school and community environments. For sixty years, 1908 to 1968, the Jeanes teachers were the ones who made the immediate and direct impact on the African American, rural schools and communities in Virginia and throughout other southern states. The fundraising activities to improve school building infrastructure, for initiating community self-help, and for introducing a form of vocational education combining theory and practice of a trade derived from the Jeanes plan are evident and practiced in today's educational settings. Like Virginia Randolph and the Jeanes teachers, today's school officials also understand why parent inclusion is so critical and why it is important to constantly seek ways to improve parent-school relations. Finally, like Randolph and the Jeanes teachers, the importance of motivating the school community and its stakeholders to become more involved for the welfare of all of our nation's children is recognized as a successful practice.
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Linda B. Pincham Roosevelt University
LINDA B. PINCHAM is Assistant Professor, College of Education, Roosevelt University in Chicago. All queries and comments regarding this article should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.…
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Publication information: Article title: A League of Willing Workers: The Impact of Northern Philanthropy, Virginia Estelle Randolph and the Jeanes Teachers in Early Twentieth-Century Virginia. Contributors: Pincham, Linda B. - Author. Journal title: The Journal of Negro Education. Volume: 74. Issue: 2 Publication date: Spring 2005. Page number: 112+. © Howard University Summer 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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