Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Collection Highlight: Junior College and Normal School Photographs

        The archives recently received an exciting donation of photographs dated circa 1925-1930! The era of the State College for Colored Students from 1891 until 1947 is by far the most underrepresented period of time within the DSU archives collections. As such, these photographs are a rare treasure!  They offer viewers the ability to see the faces of students who were previously represented only by names in a long list of DSU alumni.  Now, however, we have the extraordinary opportunity to see with clarity the automobiles, clothing, early campus buildings, and faces of students that comprised the State College for Colored Students. 

Prior to this donation, graduates of the Junior College
and Normal School were represented only by class list records
which named alumni by graduation date. 
       At the time that these photographs were taken, the SCCS was under the administration of President Richard S. Grossley who governed the college from 1923 until 1942.  The Grossley surname appears on approximately half of the photographs included within the donation.  Although the exact creator of these photographs is unknown, it is theorized that President Grossley, his wife, or someone close to them was the photographer.

        President Grossley’s administration is known for the inclusion of new programs at the State College for Colored Students.  In 1923 a two-year junior college division was founded in order to create a bridge between high school and college for young adults.  Shortly thereafter, in 1925 a two-year normal course was founded.  A Normal School was a program offered to high school graduates in order to instruct them in accepted teaching standards or “norms.” At the State College for Colored Students a lab classroom was established where the Normal School undergraduates could gain teaching experience.  The lab classroom was additionally beneficial to local African American children who would otherwise have been forced to attend a segregated school in Wilmington.
SCCS student, Mary Simms, stands on the campus.
In the background the combined library and chapel
building may be seen. 

Pictured here are Junior College students Herman
Bantom, Charles Whaley, Isaac Caulk, and
William Laws.
These students are believed to be students of the Junior College and Normal School at the State College for Colored Students circa 1930. 

Caption on the back: "First Row… 1. Mary Simms, 2. H. Jefferson, 3. L. Mitchell, 4.  M. Florence, 5. M. Sample. Second Row 1. Helen N. J., 2. Mabel Moody 3. Henry, 5. Dorothy Y. Allen" 
        It is believed that the individuals seen within these photographs are students of the Junior College and Normal School.  Fortunately many of the photographs include handwritten captions on the photograph backs that identify who some of the individuals are.  While the archive is fortunate to be able to name the photograph’s subjects, the lives of each student remain a mystery.  What did they study?  Where were they from?  Did the students attain the careers they hoped for? How did World War II affect them? Despite the many unanswered questions, these photographs allow us some clues as to what life was like in the early days of Delaware State University.

Do you want to see more images? You are cordially invited to visit the archives to view the full collection of SCCS photographs.

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