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Virginia Museum of History and Culture honors VCU historian Brian Daugherity for journal article tied to VCU Libraries collection

September 8, 2021
Second Union School and historical marker, Goochland County, Va., 2014

The Virginia Museum of History and Culture has honored Brian J. Daugherity, Ph.D., and his co-author Alyce Miller, Ph.D., for outstanding contributions to the scholarly record on Virginia history. 

The article by Daugherity and Miller, honored as the best to appear in 2020 in its quarterly journal, the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography (VMHB), is based in part on the research and oral history interviews the scholars conducted that is now encompassed in the Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project collection created and hosted by VCU Libraries. 

“We would like to thank all who helped and supported this research in various ways,” Daugherity said. “We'd especially like to thank VCU Libraries for all the time and effort that went into the creation of the Goochland County digital collection.”

“VCU Libraries congratulates the honorees for their work highlighting the contributions and advocacy of Black community members who were vital to creating educational opportunities in Goochland County during the Jim Crow era,” said Yuki Hibben, interim head of Special Collections and Archives and curator of books and art. “We are so glad to be able to engage with our scholarly community and invite faculty and students to contact us about how we can best support their research and other activities.

Established in 1893, the VMHB publishes articles and book reviews on topics encompassing all periods of Virginia’s long social, political and cultural history. It is one of the oldest continuously published scholarly journals in the nation. The journal is housed in the collections of libraries throughout the nation and internationally, and is available from the JSTOR database, a digital library of academic journals, books and primary sources available to instructors and college students nationwide.

The William M.E. Rachal Award awarded to Daugherity and Miller was established in 1985 to recognize the overall best article to appear in the VMHB during the year. Each year a committee of the journal's editorial advisory board selects the author whose essay has best advanced the cause of scholarship in Virginia history. The award carries a cash prize and is named for long-time editor of the journal, Will Rachal, who served from 1953 to 1980.

The 2020 awardee, ‘A New Era in Building’: African American Educational Activism in Goochland County, Virginia, 1911–32, appeared in vol. 128, no. 1, of the VMHB

The award committee had this to say about the article: 

“In this article, Daugherity and Miller examine local efforts to increase educational opportunities for rural African Americans in the broader context of educational advocacy across the state and the South. The authors constructed this history of educational activism in Goochland County from a compelling array of county records, regional philanthropic records and interviews they conducted with Goochland County educational activists. By setting their study in conversation with histories of the ‘long’ civil rights movement and educational activism during the Jim Crow era, Daugherity and Miller show how one rural Black community contributed to regional and national efforts to achieve school equalization efforts in later decades.”  

“Sincere congratulations to Professors Daugherity and Miller. Their use of VCU Libraries collections to create this honored publication speaks to the relevance and importance of Special Collections that when collected appeared to be regionally focused but over time contribute to a national perspective of our history and culture,” said Irene Herold, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. “We look forward to others engaging with our preserved and accessible treasures.”

Daugherity is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and Miller is a professor of history at Valencia College.   

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Some of this text in this article is used, with permission, from the public relations release of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. VCU Libraries’ Community Digitization Program seeks community partners interested in digitizing and exposing their special collections, archival records, photographs, publications and other documents for use in research.

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More about the Goochland County collection

VCU Libraries’ The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project documents education in Goochland County, Virginia, 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 was funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Humanities, the John Tyler Community College Foundation, and the Virginia Community College System.

During the Jim Crow Era, from roughly the 1870s until the 1950s, segregated school systems were supposed to be, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), “separate but equal.” In reality, educational systems for African- Americans in Virginia, and elsewhere in the South, were anything but. Starting in the 1910s, “Rosenwald Schools” were built for Black students as a philanthropic endeavor funded in part by businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. While Rosenwald provided the matching grant funds that supported the program, Booker T. Washington was the initial force behind its creation. The Rosenwald school-building program began in 1912. From 1917 to 1932, 4,977 schools, primarily for African-Americans, were funded and built. 

According to Julius Rosenwald Fund records (JRF), the JRF helped construct 367 schools, three teacher’s homes, and 11 school (industrial) shops in Virginia. In addition to providing its own money, the Rosenwald Fund required matching funds from any combination of public and private sources. Of the total cost of Rosenwald-associated buildings, grounds, and equipment in Virginia from 1917 through 1932, African- Americans contributed 22%, white contributions totaled 1%, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15%, and state and local government contributions equaled 62%. In the 15 states in the South where the school building program operated, African Americans collectively contributed 17% of the funds, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15% of the funds, private white contributions totaled 4% of the funds, and public funds made up the remaining 64% of the funds.

The majority of the private funding for Rosenwald Schools came from the African American communities where the schools were located, because Black citizens organized fundraisers and sacrificed some of their own, often meager, wages in support of a better education for their children.  

The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History digital collection consists of 19 video interviews with 18 participants with fully searchable transcripts and tape logs for 15 of the interviews. Additionally, photographs of the schools and documents relating to the Rosenwald Fund are included. The digital collection is freely available to all researchers with some copyright restrictions for use. 

The collection is housed in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. For more information, see the finding aid for the Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project. Please direct reference and research inquires to libjbcsca@vcu.edu or call (804) 828-1108. https://archives.library.vcu.edu/repositories/5/resources/310

 

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