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Appalachian State University (Boone, NC 28608-0001)
Kristen Baldwin Deathridge (Project Director: May 2016 to June 2019)
Preserving and Sharing the Story of the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School

A one-day digitization event to document memories and artifacts from the alumni and community of Lincoln Heights, a Rosenwald school for African Americans in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. In operation from 1924 to 1968, the school was saved from demolition by an active community group, Lincoln Heights Recreation Corporation, that would join with staff and students from Appalachian State University to collect memorabilia about the school and explore its history as the largest school for African Americans in the surrounding counties and the only one that remains standing in the region. This local history would contribute to the broader understanding of the rural school building program, funded by Julius Rosenwald at the behest of Booker T. Washington, in an effort to improve the quality of public education for African Americans in the early 20th-century South. During the digitization event, several speakers would share the history of Rosenwald schools, as well as the community history of Lincoln Heights. A screening of Aviva Kempner’s 2015 documentary Rosenwald would be followed by a talk from Mary Hoffschwelle, professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University, on the national significance and current status of Rosenwald schools.

Lincoln Heights is a large Rosenwald school for African Americans in Wilkesboro, NC. Open from 1924-68, Lincoln Heights educated and employed black southerners through the Jim Crow Era and the height of the 20th century Civil Rights Movement. Since its closure, alumni and community members have been working to preserve and share their story and have invited members of Appalachian State University's history department and library to assist in that mission. This one-day event will involve digitizing artifacts associated with the school provided by the alumni, and public programming will include stories about those artifacts as well as their memories about growing up in the Appalachian Mountains. We will also screen the documentary Rosenwald and follow it with a talk on the Rosenwald school building program to provide national context for this local experience.

Project fields:
African American History; Public History

Common Heritage

Preservation and Access

$9,877 (approved)
$9,747 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 6/30/2018