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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Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., view of privy, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Peaks Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., view of privy, 1962-1963
Peaks Elementary School for African Americans, located on county road 626 in Prince Edward County, Va. View of privy. 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
Peebles Department Store in Appomattox Court House, Va., 2001 [View Image]
Peebles Department Store in Appomattox Court House, Va., 2001
Peebles Department Store in Appomattox Court House, Appomattox County, Va. Peebles Department store founder has common Virginia ancestors with Edward H. Peeples., Peebles Department Store
Perspective of the Prince Edward County school issue [View Image]
Perspective of the Prince Edward County school issue
Thesis (M.A.) -- University of Pennsylvania. Bibliography: leaves [81]-[84]
Pisgah Baptist Church, Rice, Va., 1962-1963 [View Image]
Pisgah Baptist Church, Rice, Va., 1962-1963
Pisgah Baptist Church in Rice, Prince Edward County, Va. This building of brick construction was used as a white elementary school by the Prince Edward School Foundation., 37.2704311, -78.2897173, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2704311,%20-78.2897173, Pisgah Baptist Church, Prince Edward School Foundation, Whites, elementary schools
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., parking lot, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., parking lot, 1962-1963
Prince Edward Academy in Farmville, Va. The white private high school of brick construction was operated by the Prince Edward School Foundation. Parking lot and rear of the school building. Buses operated by the Prince Edward School Foundation are parked on the lot., 37.2934856, -78.3836068, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2934856,%20-78.3836068, Prince Edward Academy; Prince Edward School Foundation, Whites, high schools
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963 [View Image]
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963
Prince Edward Academy in Farmville, Va. The white private high school of brick construction was operated by the Prince Edward School Foundation., 37.2934856, -78.3836068, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2934856,%20-78.3836068, Prince Edward Academy; Prince Edward School Foundation, Whites, high schools
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., center of building, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., center of building, 1962-1963
Prince Edward Academy in Farmville, Va. The white private high school of brick construction was operated by the Prince Edward School Foundation. View of the center of the building., 37.2934856, -78.3836068, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2934856,%20-78.3836068, Prince Edward Academy; Prince Edward School Foundation, Whites, high schools
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., right end of building, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Prince Edward Academy, Farmville, Va., right end of building, 1962-1963
Prince Edward Academy in Farmville, Va. The white private high school of brick construction was operated by the Prince Edward School Foundation. View of the right end of the building., 37.2934856, -78.3836068, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2934856,%20-78.3836068, Prince Edward Academy; Prince Edward School Foundation, Whites, high schools
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1988 [View Image]
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1988
Prince Edward County Courthouse, located on N. Main St., Farmville, Va., 37.301541, -78.392218, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.301541,%20-78.392218, Prince Edward County Courthouse
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991 [View Image]
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991
Prince Edward County Courthouse, located on N. Main St., Farmville, Va., 37.301541, -78.392218, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.301541,%20-78.392218, Prince Edward County Courthouse
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991 [View Image]
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991
Prince Edward County Courthouse, located on N. Main St., Farmville, Va., 37.301541, -78.392218, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.301541,%20-78.392218, Prince Edward County Courthouse
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991 [View Image]
Prince Edward County Courthouse, Farmville, Va., 1991
Prince Edward County Courthouse, located on N. Main St., Farmville, Va., 37.301541, -78.392218, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.301541,%20-78.392218, Prince Edward County Courthouse

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