Fleming Cain Colored School, School District No. 17, Laurens County. Courtesy of South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

The Rosenwald Schools of South Carolina exhibit features as its center the forty-three oral history interviews forming the Tom Crosby Oral History Collection that describe the educational experiences of African Americans in South Carolina 1910s-1970s, most of whom attended Rosenwald schools and/or Allen University. Accessible from the Interviews tab, all interviews are available as transcripts and sound recordings. Interview synopses, with biographical data, precede each transcript link.

What is a Rosenwald school? In 1917, Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, initiated the Julius Rosenwald Foundation which built more than 5000 schools, shop buildings and teachers’ houses for African Americans across the South. African Americans participated in the building of schools in their communities including land acquisition, fund raising, school management and curriculum. About 500 schools were built in South Carolina. The program ended in 1932, but many of the schools continued operating until desegregation in the early 1970s.

The Timeline allows for a chronological, visual exploration of who was attending which schools during the sixty-year span of educational experiences, with links to the interviewee’s transcript and sound recording. Whenever possible a photograph of the person is included; when not available, a photograph of the school attended is used in its place.

Fleming Cain Colored School, School District No. 17, Laurens County. Courtesy of South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Within the exhibit is a Resources page providing information for further research. You can easily access the Rosenwald Fund Card File database held at Fisk University, the full collection of the State Archives insurance photographs and other oral history collections relating to Rosenwald schools.

Interested in a particular school or where it was located? The Map allows you to zoom in and read more about a particular school mentioned in the interviews.

Go to the Contact page to let us know what you think, Share a Memory, or suggest further resources to include on the subject of Rosenwald Schools of South Carolina.



“With great appreciation I would like to recognize the collaborative effort which culminated in this online resource. Digital Collections, Systems and the Department of Oral History contributed their talents to making the Rosenwald Schools of South Carolina exhibit possible.

Tabitha Y. Samuel, assistant in Digital Collections, served as the primary developer and liaison with the Department of Oral History and Systems. Lance Dupre, Server Administrator, and Jason Steelman, Webmaster, both in Systems, aided the CONTENTdm configuration. Marleigh Chiles and Megan Coker, graduate students in the Department of Oral History, created catalog records, gathered metadata, organized photos and much more.

Dr. Tom Crosby, who tirelessly met with interviewees to get signed release forms and photographs, was invaluable. And deep gratitude to all the interviewees who agreed to share their time and memories with the world.”

Andrea L’Hommedieu, Oral Historian
Department of Oral History