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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Original camera used to take the Prince Edward County photographs, 2001
Camera used to take the Prince Edward photographs in the early 1960s. Some of the photos were taken with a flash which is not shown here. This camera was made in Germany and was purchased for $6.95 around 1959.
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Original camera used to take the Prince Edward County photographs, 2001
Camera used to take the Prince Edward photographs in the early 1960s. Some of the photos were taken with a flash which is not shown here. This camera was made in Germany and was purchased for $6.95 around 1959.
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Pamplin #10 Elementary School, Pamplin, Va., front and side of building, 1962-1963
Pamplin #10 Elementary School for African Americans in Pamplin, Prince Edward County, Va. Located on U.S. 460, two miles east of Pamplin City on the south side of the highway. Front and side view. Picture taken at dusk. Built in 1938, it served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 40. It was a one room school house with a wood frame, tin roof, five windows on the front, painted gray and trimmed in white, with two outdoor privies. No indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat., 37.2634817, -78.682505, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2634817,%20-78.682505, Pamplin #10 Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Pamplin #10 Elementary School, Pamplin, Va., front and side view, 1962-1963
Pamplin #10 Elementary School for African Americans in Pamplin, Prince Edward County, Va. Located on U.S. 460, two miles east of Pamplin City on the south side of the highway. Front and side view. Picture taken at dusk. Built in 1938, it served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 40. It was a one room school house with a wood frame, tin roof, five windows on the front, painted gray and trimmed in white, with two outdoor privies. No indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat., 37.2634817, -78.682505, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2634817,%20-78.682505, Pamplin #10 Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Pamplin #10 Elementary School, Pamplin, Va., rear and side view, 1962-1963
Pamplin #10 Elementary School for African Americans in Pamplin, Prince Edward County, Va. Located on U.S. 460, two miles east of Pamplin City on the south side of the highway. Rear and side view. Picture taken at dusk. Built in 1938, it served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 40. It was a one room school house with a wood frame, tin roof, five windows on the front, painted gray and trimmed in white, with two outdoor privies. No indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat., 37.2634817, -78.682505, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2634817,%20-78.682505, Pamplin #10 Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Pamplin Elementary School, Pamplin, Va., 1962-1963
Pamplin Elementary School for whites in Pamplin City, Appomattox County, Va. This school of brick construction was open at the time the photograph was taken and was located just a few hundred yards from the Prince Edward County line., Pamplin Elementary School (Appomattox County), Whites, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., classroom interior, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. View of interior of classroom with wood stove. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., classroom interior, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. View of interior of classroom with wood stove. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., front view of building, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. View of front of building facing the road. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., rear view of building, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. Rear view of building. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., side view of building, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. Side view of building. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., view of door, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. View of front door with sign. The school was built in 1939, with a 1943 addition, and served grades 1-6 with a pupil capacity of 70. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was in very poor condition with peeling whitewash, two rooms with wood stoves and pipes, and outdoor privies in poor shape., 37.334038, -78.5786123, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.334038,%20-78.5786123, Peaks Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools

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