Many Americans from the Puritans of the 1600's to the student protesters and educational reformers of the 1960's have believed education to be vitally important in society. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, to realize that historians have made comparatively few studies of education in the United States apart from chapters in general works of social history, quick analyses as part of a call for educational reform, or uncritical studies of particular educational institutions (usually by a faculty member).
This omission is even more glaring in the case of the education of black Americans. 1 While there are very few general or specific studies of black schools, most of the studies that do exist deal primarily with the political actions of white legislatures to segregate and discriminate against black public schools. 2 The main recent social history of black public education and white philanthropic aid to black schools in the South, Henry Allen Bullock, A History of Negro Education in the South ( New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), deals primarily with the period since 1901.
Subordination or Liberation? explains and describes the development of black private and public, elementary, secondary, normal, and collegiate education in Alabama from emancipation to 1901. A state study is large enough for synthesis and small enough to permit detailed analysis. All public schools are in state systems. Since most graduates of black private colleges before 1915 taught in state schools or followed their professions in the state where they received their education, state studies are important for private schools. Many other social groups such as teachers' associations, professional organizations, churches, and lodges are largely statewide bodies. Many black public schools began as private schools, which philanthropic organizations turned