An Architecture of Education

June 2018
33 black and white, 2 line illustrations
256 pages
9x6 in
Gender and Race in American History
ISBN: 9781580469098
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS036060, SOC001000, SOC028000

An Architecture of Education

African American Women Design the New South

Angel David Nieves

Examines material culture and the act of institution creation, especially through architecture and landscape, to recount a deeper history of the lives of African American women in the post-Civil War South.
This volume focuses broadly on the history of the social welfare reform work of nineteenth-century African American women who founded industrial and normal schools in the American South. Through their work in architecture and education, these women helped to memorialize the trauma and struggle of black Americans. Author Angel David Nieves tells the story of women such as Elizabeth Evelyn Wright (1872-1906), founder of the Voorhees Industrial School (now Voorhees College) in Denmark, South Carolina, in 1897, who not only promoted a program of race uplift through industrial education but also engaged with many of the pioneering African American architects of the period to design a school and surrounding community. Similarly, Jane (Jennie) Serepta Dean (1848-1913), a former slave, networked with elite Northern white designers to found the Manassas Industrial School in Manassas, Virginia, in 1892.

An Architecture of Education examines the work of these women educators and reformers as a form of nascent nation building, noting the ways in which the social and political ideology of race uplift and gendered agency that they embodied was inscribed on the built environment through the design and construction of these model schools. In uncovering these women's role in the shaping of African American public spheres in the post-Reconstruction South, the book makes an important contribution to the history of African Americans' long struggle for equality and civil rights in the United States.

Angel David Nieves is Associate Professor of History and Digital Humanities at San Diego State University.

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Table of Contents

Contested Monument-Making and the Crisis of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920
The Impact of Chicago's "White City" on African American Placemaking
Tuskegee Utopianism: Where American Campus Planning Meets Black Nationalism
The "Race Women" Establishment: Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, Jennie Dean, and Their All-Black Schools
Manassas and Voorhees: Models of Race Uplift
Historically Black Colleges and Universities: In Service to the Race


An Architecture of Education opens doors to new actors, places, and topics in architectural history - ones that architectural historians should take note of, learn from, and pursue. CAA REVIEWS

In this compelling history, Angel David Nieves provides a fresh new view of the establishment of African American educational institutions through a consideration of the critical spatial history of the late nineteenth century. A nuanced examination of the architectural and social history of this period, this volume also recounts the extraordinary achievements of two black women educators, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright and Jennie Dean, who founded and built, respectively, Voorhees College and the Manassas Industrial School. Readers of all backgrounds will find this volume to be both absorbing and elucidating.--Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

Angel Nieves's important study An Architecture of Education reframes our understanding of the racial and spatial politics of American life by focusing on the building of Black college campuses as critical to the shaping of the American education system. By inserting the contributions of Black women institution-builders Jennie Dean and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright into the dialogue on racial landscapes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Nieves reminds us that the built environment is deeply implicated in the racial ordering of American life." --Brittney Cooper, author of Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women

In this innovative study, Angel David Nieves highlights the vital institutional and intellectual work of black women educators in the post-Civil War South. These women take center stage as savvy institution builders who devised various strategies to improve the social and economic conditions of people of African descent in the United States. Their unwavering commitment to nation building, political self-determination, and education laid the groundwork for a new generation of black women activists and intellectuals engaged in the struggle for civil rights in the decades to follow. --Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom

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