The Exhibit of American Negroes
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Black Colleges
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Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute

Hampton Institute was founded in 1868 by northern philanthropists in Hampton, Virginia. The school's founding principal was General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who led the school until his death in 1893. The school, which was neither a federal nor a state school, was chartered by a special act of the General Assembly of Virginia, and was controlled by a board representing different regions of the country and various religious groups. The school's most famous graduate was Booker T. Washington.

The photographs of Hampton for The Exhibit of the American Negroes are particularly noteworthy. Taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston, one of the leading social and documentary photographers of her period, the pictures of Hampton were widely used to publicize the work of the school and its idea of integral education, which emphasized the progressive notion of learning by doing.

Hampton was unique in that it opened its doors to Native Americans. Beginning in 1878, Native American students from the Northern Plains tribes were brought to the school to be "re-educated." Armstrong, who had been raised by missionary parents in Hawaii, promoted a curriculum which was highly colonialist in its tenor and promoted the most rapid assimilation possible.

The photographs by Frances Johnston included in this exhibit are drawn from Albert Shaw's article "'Learning by Doing' at Hampton," which was published in the April 1900 issue of The American Monthly Review of Reviews. Johnston's photographs, through an historical accident, made their way to the Museum of Modern Art, where they were republished in 1966 as The Hampton Album. The selection of  images here are known to have been exhibited at Paris as part of The Exhibit of American Negroes and were photographed directly from The American Monthly Review of Reviews. The captions are from Shaw's article.

Emphasized in Shaw's article was the role of the education provided at Hampton in uplifting black culture and life. The images demonstrate this by contrasting old and new structures and ways of life.


Class in Dressmaking in the Domestic Science Building: Hampton Institute

For more images of Hampton, click here.


Related Entries:
Washington, Booker T.

Copyright  2005 by Facts On File, Inc., and Eugene Provenzo.
African-American History & Culture. Copyright 2005 by Facts On File, Inc.