Friday Photo History: 1920 Tuskegee Faculty
Our last photo entry for Black History Month features a picture of the Tuskegee Institute's faculty from the year 1920. This is another photo from the PH Polk Collection. Mr. Polk's collection is so rich with content that I could almost use it every week for the blog. I do not believe that Mr. Polk took this photo, though; this is due to the inscription "C.M. Battey" which resides in the lower left corner. It was Mr. Polk's long-term project to photograph and document the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). Also, Mr. Polk was Tuskegee's official photographer from 1939 until 1984, so this photo was taken 19 years before PH Polk was on duty. He most likely came across this photo somewhere at the university and it became lumped in with his photographic collection.
The Tuskegee Institute was established in 1881. Booker T. Washington, the subject of last week's photo blog, was the first president of the institute and provided a direction and strong foundation for it to expand upon. In 1965 the school became a National Historic Landmark. It continues to provide 34 bachelor's degree programs, 12 master's degree programs, a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 2 doctoral degree programs and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; masters and doctoral degrees include engineering. It was not always this way, and the Institute/University has grown substantially since the time of this photograph. These doctors and professors taught young black students in a country dominated by segregation, racism, Jim Crow, and inequality. They continued the mission that Booker T. Washington laid out and they succeeded, for Tuskegee University still stands and educates - the United States and all of its people are better off for it.
Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda. Thanks to Biography.com for the biography. For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at
. For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.