Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Mattingly, Carol, 1945-

Author's Keywords

Literacy; African-Americans; Berea College; Lincoln Institute


Lincoln Institute (Simpsonville, Ky.); Berea College--History; African Americans--Education--Kentucky


This dissertation examines the history of Berea College in Kentucky. Founded before the Civil War, it was a small, private southern college that educated blacks, whites, women and men equally, an early model of cooperation and social harmony. Its rigorous college curriculum was modeled after northern elite institutions, and black graduates before 1904 held a variety of positions: professors, principals and superintendents, ministers, attorneys, physicians, and civil engineers. However, in 1904 Kentucky passed legislation requiring blacks and whites to be educated separately. Berea College set aside funding and established the all-black Lincoln Institute near Louisville. While Lincoln Institute was presented as a positive achievement, it offered no college department and only provided secondary and industrial levels of education, similar to Tuskegee in Alabama and Hampton in Virginia. Although Lincoln Institute's trustees specified arrangements for “the higher education of such graduates of this department as show special character and ability for leadership,” this promise was never realized. Using literacy theory and archival research, this research emphasizes differences between working class and classical educations, in education for freedom versus servitude, and places the loss of access to a collegiate-level education for blacks into a larger historical milieu. Chapter I identifies the boundaries and theoretical foundations of this archival research, and sets the historical context for the more detailed evidence in Chapters II-III. Chapter II examines institutional, national, and state sponsorship of education and uses W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington as examples of national pressures brought to bear on Kentucky. Chapter III focuses on community sponsorship through individual voices affected by the policy changes at the College. Finally, Chapter IV concludes the research with a brief summary and argues the importance of both institutional and community sponsorship in understanding the current challenges of encouraging diversity and social equality on college campuses.