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Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project

Identifier: M 501

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of approximately 117 files in 21 folders detailing the history of the Goochland County Rosenwald Schools. The majority of the collection is directly related to the oral history interviews taken to tell the story, while the remainder is materials that support the oral histories. The interviews were conducted during 2013-2014, and all the images and other footage were collected between September 2013 and April 2015. File formats include .mov,.pdf/a, and .jpeg.


  • 2013-2015

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

All intellectual property rights are retained by the creators of this collection: Brian J. Daugherity, Alyce Miller, and Christopher Silvent. All requests and inquiries regarding intellectual property rights permissions will be referred to them.

Historical Information

The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project is a joint venture by Dr. Brian J. Daugherity of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Alyce Miller of John Tyler Community College, funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Humanities. The purpose of the project is to document education in Goochland County, particularly the impact of the Rosenwald Schools, and the differences between the education offered to white and black students during the period the Rosenwald Schools operated. The project preserves and makes widely available the history of African American education, community activism, and school segregation in Virginia during the early 20th century.

Rosenwald Schools were a philanthropic endeavor funded in part by businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald through the Rosenwald Fund. He was appalled at the disparities in educational resources between white and black citizens within the same communities across the South. The project began in 1912 when Booker T. Washington asked permission to use some of the money Rosenwald had donated to the Tuskegee Institute to construct several small schools in rural Alabama. After the success of that project, Rosenwald formed his fund. Over a 15 year period, from 1917 to 1932, 4,977 schools, primarily for African Americans, were funded and built. The Fund required some buy-in in the form of public funds from the local white and African American communities as well, to show partnership across racial lines. Though the white community did contribute, the majority of the public funds came from the African American communities themselves, who organized fundraisers and sacrificed some of their own, often meagre, wages in support of a better education for their children.

Because of the fact that rural and African American communities were drastically underserved in public educational resources, many of these schools were the first formal school buildings in their communities, and many other Rosenwald Schools replaced unsound structures being used. Rosenwald Schools were built using architectural plans provided by the Rosenwald Fund to work around common obstacles. Most of the schools were constructed in rural communities that were unlikely to have access to electricity, so they were designed to take the most advantage of natural light. They also had strict guidelines regarding ventilation, interior and exterior color schemes and decorative appointments, the quality of the furnishings and blackboards, and the location of separate outhouses. Depending on the size of the community the schools were to serve, the schoolhouses could accommodate one to four teachers. Often, the walls separating classrooms were moveable to enable the community to create a larger meeting space as needed. Schools in urban settings were often bigger, had additional features like a dedicated auditorium space, and usually reflected the relative wealth of their community compared to those in rural locations.

For more information about the Rosenwald School movement see the National Trust for Historic Preservation, History of the Rosenwald School Program.


74.9 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into six series, retaining the original organization and file names given by the creators of the materials.

Series 1: Rosenwald Interviews. Video (.mov) files of the oral history interviews. Files arranged alphabetically by first name, and then numerically therein.

Series 2: Rosenwald Interview Transcripts. Transcripts of the recorded oral history interviews. Transcripts are arranged in folders by interviewee first name. Within each folder is a complete transcript of their interview, an abstract describing the interview, and a tape log.

Series 3: Rosenwald Edited Interview Excerpts. Edited and condensed video files (.mov) of the original digital recording of the oral histories.

Series 4: Rosenwald Documents. Scans of original documents related to the establishment and opening of Rosenwald Schools. Files arranged alphabetically and then numerically therein.

Series 5: Rosenwald Interview Stills. Screengrab images from the original digital recording of the oral histories. Files arranged alphabetically by first name, then numerically therein.

Series 6: Rosenwald Archive Stills. Modern photographs of Rosenwald School-related locations in Goochland County. Files arranged alphabetically and then numerically therein.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The .mov files require Apple QuickTime to view, or a similar media player such as Windows Media Player. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view the .pdf/a files.

Acquisition Information

The materials in the collection were donated by the creators, Brian J. Daugherity, Ph.D. of VCU, and Alyce Miller, Ph.D. of John Tyler Community College, in 2015.

Existence and Location of Copies

These materials are also available via VCU Digital Collections.


A Guide to the Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project, 2013-2015
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, M 501
Jessica E. Johnson and Margaret T. Kidd
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108