Engaging the Public with and Preserving the History of Texas’s First Public Historically Black University

Authors

  • Marco Robinson Division of Social Work, Behavioral, and Political Sciences, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas
  • Phyllis Earles Special Collections and Archives, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5334/kula.33

Keywords:

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Prairie View A&M University, historic preservation, archival studies, digitization, oral history, service learning, community engagement, collaboration, Texas History, Black Texans

Abstract

The silences and erasures surrounding the histories of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in many instances are caused by limited technology, lack of financial resources, and, most importantly, institutional priorities. Many aspects of HBCUs’ histories, particularly in the state of Texas, have been relegated to historical voids or are becoming endangered knowledge. These are the issues that jeopardize the long and rich history of Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), Texas’s first public supported historically black university, which dates back to the post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras of American history. Emancipated blacks in Texas sought all avenues available to them to obtain an education, including establishing churches and schools. Freed people’s efforts culminated in the creation of Alta Vista School for Colored Youth, which subsequently became PVAMU following several name changes. During the Jim Crow era, PVAMU served as the administrative home base for black education in the state of Texas, offered agricultural extension services to black farmers, and served as the central facility for black grade school athletics and extracurricular activities. Due to lack of personnel and resources, all of the archival collections that document this history are unprocessed and unavailable to the public. This article considers the collaborative efforts of the history faculty and the Special Collections and Archives (SCAD) staff at PVAMU to bring light to this important history through preservation projects, public programming and student engagement activities. Additionally, the article uses endangered archival materials from PVAMU’s Special Collections to explore the history of this important institution of higher education.

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Author Biographies

Marco Robinson, Division of Social Work, Behavioral, and Political Sciences, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas

Dr. Marco Robinson is an Assistant Professor of History at Prairie View A & M University.

Phyllis Earles, Special Collections and Archives, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas

Phyllis Earles is University Archivist at Prairie View A & M University.

References

Anderson, James. 1988. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5149/uncp/9780807842218

Butin, Dan. 2006. “Introduction.” In “Future Directions for Service Learning in Higher Education.” Dan Butin (ed.), International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Special issue, 18(1): 1–4.

Cantey, Nia Imani, Robert Bland, LaKerri R. Mack, and Danielle Joy-Davis. 2013. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Sustaining a Culture of Excellence in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of African American Studies, 17(2): 142–53. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-011-9191-0

Nojeim, Michael, and Frank Jackson. 2011. Down that Road: A Pictorial History of Prairie View A&M University. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company Publishers.

Williams, Heather. 2005. Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-5959.2007.00120.x

Woolfolk, George. 1962. Prairie View: A Study in Public Conscience, 1878–1946. New York: Pageant Press.

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Published

2018-11-29

How to Cite

Robinson, Marco, and Phyllis Earles. 2018. “Engaging the Public With and Preserving the History of Texas’s First Public Historically Black University”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 2 (1):24. https://doi.org/10.5334/kula.33.

Issue

Section

Teaching Reflections