Edward H. Peeples Prince Edward County (Va.) Public Schools

Context for this collection
The Edward H. Peeples Prince Edward County (Va.) Public Schools Collection explores the history of school segregation issues of the 1950s and 1960s.

During the 1950s Prince Edward County would become the focus of the public schools desegregation issue in Virginia. On 23 April 1951, African American students at Robert Russa Moton High School walked out to protest squalid conditions at the segregated site. Four years earlier the school had been ruled inadequate by the State Board of Education.

Attorneys Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill of Richmond met with the student leaders and agreed to represent them in court if they agreed to challenge Virginia's public school segregation law. The students' challenge to Virginia's law eventually became one of five such complaints heard in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. In 1954, the nine Justices ruled unanimously in favor of the students, overturning the "Separate But Equal" precedent established by Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. The decision also set in motion a course of "Massive Resistance" by segregationists and the Virginia political power structure. In Prince Edward County, rather than integrate their public schools, segregationists chose instead to close their public schools from 1959-1964.

On the ground documenting these events was Edward H. Peeples (RPI graduate '57 and Emeritus professor at VCU). By the late-1950s, Dr. Peeples had become active in the Civil Rights Movement and participated in activities seeking to reform social injustices. While earning his graduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, his concerns for the state of race relations in Virginia prompted him to return to Prince Edward County to research his thesis, A Perspective of the Prince Edward County School Issue (1963).

The Collection
During the course of his research, Dr. Peeples photographed over 100 images of schools in Prince Edward County. In addition to taking photographs of segregated public schools that had been in use prior to 1959, he also took images of the private schools established after the public schools did not open in 1959. These photographs were taken from 1961 through 1963 and are illustrative of the lack of resources provided by the state and the county for its African American students. VCU Libraries is proud to present all of the images here, digitized from the original negatives in 2009. Also included are Dr. Peeples' original annotations.

In addition, the collection includes contemporary photographs and several of Dr. Peeples' written works in order to provide context for the early 1960s images. The contemporary photographs were taken by Dr. Peeples from 1988 until 2003. He photographed buildings, persons, and events, such as the ceremonies conferring national historic recognition on the Robert Russa Moton School in 1998 and the 50th anniversary of the Prince Edward County Student Strike in 2001. Among the text documents are a mimeographed chart dated 1965, titled "13 Known Private Schools in Virginia Established Since 1958 to Circumvent Desegregation", and two highway maps, annotated by Dr. Peeples, pinpointing the location of the Prince Edward County photographs. Using these maps and other information, we have identified and supplied GIS coordinates for most of the buildings in the 1960s photographs.

Browse by time period: 1960s (segregation era) -- 1988-2003 (commemorative events)

Browse by format: Photograph -- Document -- Map

Browse schools by racial orientation: African American -- White

To browse by name of school or building, use the facets on the left side of the search/browse for this collection

For more information on works by Dr. Peeples, see the two finding aids describing his papers, Accession Number M 68 and Accession Number M 342, housed in Special Collections and Archives at the James Branch Cabell Library. For more on civil rights activities in Farmville and Prince Edward County, see Farmville 1963 Civil Rights Protests.

Copyright
This material is protected by copyright, and copyright is held by VCU. You are permitted to use this material in any way that is permitted by copyright. In addition, this material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/). Acknowledgment of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is required.

In honor of Dr. Edward H. Peeples
With gratitude for his devotion to justice for all the people of Virginia. VCU Friends of the Library, 2007–2012.

"A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Ghandi to come back - but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you." – Marian Wright Edelman

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Levi Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., 1999
Tom Hoynes (L) and Brian Grogan (R) in front of Levi Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 662 in Prince Edward County, Va. This building was abandoned by the county in 1959., 37.120986, -78.3166623, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.1209860,%20-78.3166623, Levi Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Levi Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., classroom, 1962-1963
Levi Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 662 in Prince Edward County, Va. Interior view. This building was abandoned by the county in 1959., 37.120986, -78.3166623, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.1209860,%20-78.3166623, Levi Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Making heroes of those of lesser sin
Unpublished editorial written in 1979 about the political leaders of Virginia during the days of massive resistance. It was sent by Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Jr., to the Richmond Times-Dispatch which chose not to publish it.
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Material opportunities in public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia: a study of public school property differentials between the races (1962-1963)
Unpublished report of a study by Edward H. Peeples, Jr., which looked at the value of public school properties in Virginia by race. The study was financed by the Virginia Teachers Association, and the data was collected in 1964 by Edward H. Peeples, Jr.
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Mercy Seat Baptist Church, Hampden Sydney, Va., 1962-1963
Mercy Seat Baptist Church in Hampden Sydney, Prince Edward County, Va. The church burned when its stove putatively exploded. The closed Mercy Seat Elementary School was loaned by the Prince Edward County School Board to the African American congregation to use for church services until their church was repaired., 37.2318191, -78.458884, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2318191,%20-78.458884, Mercy Seat Baptist Church
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Mercy Seat Elementary School (former), Prince Edward County, Va, 1999
A grocery and sporting goods store on secondary road 665, near Hampden Sydney, Prince Edward County, Va. The building was once Mercy Seat Elementary School., 37.230352, -78.461403, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.230352,%20-78.461403, Mercy Seat Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Mercy Seat Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., 1962-1963
Mercy Seat Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 665 in Prince Edward County, Va. It was used by an African American congregation by permission of the school board as a meeting place for their burned out Mercy Seat Baptist Church. The school was built in 1927, served grades 1-5, and had a pupil capacity of 120. Two room schoolhouse, whitewash peeling, wood frame and clapboard construction. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat., 37.230352, -78.461403, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.230352,%20-78.461403, Mercy Seat Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Mercy Seat Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., 1962-1963
Mercy Seat Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 665 in Prince Edward County, Va. It was used by an African American congregation by permission of the school board as a meeting place for their burned out Mercy Seat Baptist Church. The school was built in 1927, served grades 1-5, and had a pupil capacity of 120. Two room schoolhouse, whitewash peeling, wood frame and clapboard construction. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat., 37.230352, -78.461403, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.230352,%20-78.461403, Mercy Seat Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Miller Building, Farmville, Va., 1988
Miller Building, located on Madison St. and S. Main St., Farmville, Va. Office home of the American Friends Service Committee and other civil rights activities., 37.299728, -78.393778, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.299728,%20-78.393778, Miller Building
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Miller Building, Farmville, Va., 1988
Miller Building, located on Madison St. and S. Main St., Farmville, Va. Office home of the American Friends Service Committee and other civil rights activities., 37.299728, -78.393778, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.299728,%20-78.393778, Miller Building
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Mission Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., 1962-1963
Mission Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 632 in Prince Edward County, Va. It was sold by the county in 1960 and then used as a house and inhabited by an African American family., Mission Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Mount Leigh Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., 1962-1963
Mount Leigh Elementary School for African Americans at the intersection of secondary roads 612 and 696 in Prince Edward County, Va. Painted gray, three rooms, privy and water pump., 37.2023752, -78.3394396, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2023752,%20-78.3394396, Mount Leigh Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools

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