The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 by Carter Godwin Woodsonby Carter Godwin Woodson
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About two years ago the author decided to set forth in a small volume the leading facts of the development of Negro education, thinking that he would have to deal largely with the movement since the Civil War. In looking over documents for material to furnish a background for recent achievements in this field, he discovered that he would write a much more interesting book should he confine himself to the ante-bellum period. In fact, the accounts of the successful strivings of Negroes for enlightenment under most adverse circumstances read like beautiful romances of a people in an heroic age.
Interesting as is this phase of the history of the American Negro, it has as a field of profitable research attracted only M.B. Goodwin, who published in the Special Report of the United States Commissioner of Education of 1871 an exhaustive History of the Schools for the Colored Population in the District of Columbia. In that same document was included a survey of the Legal Status of the Colored Population in Respect to Schools and Education in the Different States. But although the author of the latter collected a mass of valuable material, his report is neither comprehensive nor thorough. Other publications touching this subject have dealt either with certain localities or special phases.
Yet evident as may be the failure of scholars to treat this neglected aspect of our history, the author of this dissertation is far from presuming that he has exhausted the subject. With the hope of vitally interesting some young master mind in this large task, the undersigned has endeavored to narrate in brief how benevolent teachers of both races strove to give the ante-bellum Negroes the education through which many of them gained freedom in its highest and best sense.
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