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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Restaurant sign in Farmville, Va., 2001
Close-up view of the road sign at Circa 2011 Euro-American Cuisine Restaurant & Lounge, US 460 west in Farmville, Va. When one sees this place and its clientele, one might wonder if this particular choice of a name bears any relationship to the peculiar history of Prince Edward County?, Circa 2011 Restaurant
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Restaurant sign in Farmville, Va., 2001
Close-up view of the road sign at Circa 2011 Euro-American Cuisine Restaurant & Lounge, US 460 west in Farmville, Va. When one sees this place and its clientele, one might wonder if this particular choice of a name bears any relationship to the peculiar history of Prince Edward County?, Circa 2011 Restaurant
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Restaurant sign in Farmville, Va., 2001
Close-up view of the road sign at Circa 2011 Euro-American Cuisine Restaurant & Lounge, US 460 west in Farmville, Va. When one sees this place and its clientele, one might wonder if this particular choice of a name bears any relationship to the peculiar history of Prince Edward County?, Circa 2011 Restaurant
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Rice Elementary School, Rice, Va., 1962-1963
Rice Elementary School for whites on secondary road 600 at 605 in Rice, Prince Edward County, Va. Built 1931, it served grades 1-7 and had a pupil capacity of 200. Handsome brick construction with eight rooms. It had indoor plumbing and had either steam or hot water heat. The two story frame building of solid construction with a tin roof (to the left of Rice Elementary building in the photograph) and in good condition at the time the photograph was taken may have been used as a shop or a cannery., 37.269869, -78.297683, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.269869,%20-78.297683, Rice Elementary School, Whites, elementary schools
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Rice Elementary School, Rice, Va., 1962-1963
Rice Elementary School for whites on secondary road 600 at 605 in Rice, Prince Edward County, Va. Built 1931, it served grades 1-7 and had a pupil capacity of 200. Handsome brick construction with eight rooms. It had indoor plumbing and had either steam or hot water heat. The two story frame building of solid construction with a tin roof (not in photo) may have been used as a shop or a cannery., 37.269869, -78.297683, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.269869,%20-78.297683, Rice Elementary School, Whites, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School and ball field, Farmville, Va., 2001
Ball field on S. Main Street in Farmville, Va., with Robert R. Moton High School, which was known as Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2 for African Americans in 1963, in the background. This is one of the two sites where the Richmond Volunteers to Prince Edward County conducted recreational and educational activities for school-less children and youth in 1961-1962. Longwood College had taken possession of the field by 1998 and made the improvements seen here when photograph was taken in 2001., 37.2924846, -78.3961863, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2924846,%20-78.3961863, Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2, Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville), African Americans, high schools, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963
Originally Robert R. Moton High School for African Americans on U.S. Route 15, southside of Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va. Known as Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2 at the time photos were taken. The current site of the Robert Russa Moton Museum., 37.2651527, -78.3991619, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2912633,%20-78.3977735, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2, Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville), African Americans, high schools, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School, Farmville, Va., temporary building, 1962-1963
"Temporary" building covered with roofing paper used as a shop. Originally part of Robert R. Moton High School for African Americans on U.S. Route 15, southside of Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va. The school was known as Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2 at time photos were taken and is the current site of the Robert Russa Moton Museum., 37.2651527, -78.3991619, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2912633,%20-78.3977735, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2, Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville), African Americans, high schools, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School historical marker, 1998
Historical marker for Robert R. Moton High School on the southside of Farmville, Va., on U.S. route 15, the site where students went out on strike against school conditions. It was previously known as Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2., 37.290811, -78.397614, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.290811,%20-78.397614, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2, Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville), African Americans, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School historical marker, 1998
Historical marker and Robert R. Moton High School in the background on the southside of Farmville, Va., on U.S. route 15, the site where students went out on strike against school conditions. It was previously known as Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2., 37.290811, -78.397614, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.290811,%20-78.397614, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2, Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville), African Americans, elementary schools
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Robert R. Moton High School, Prince Edward County, Va., distant view, 1962-1963
Robert R. Moton High School for African Americans on county road 628 in Prince Edward County, Va. This was the name of the school at the time the photo was taken in 1962. View of school from the west. The school was built in 1953, two years after the boycott by students at the original Robert R. Moton High School. This building had a pupil capacity of 650 and served grades 8-12. It was one of only two schools for African Americans in the county to have indoor plumbing and either steam or hot water heat. Later renamed Prince Edward County High School., 37.2662637, -78.3994397, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.267097,%20-78.4033286, Robert R. Moton High School (Prince Edward County), Prince Edward County High School, African Americans, high schools
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Robert R. Moton High School, Prince Edward County, Va., no trespassing sign, 1962-1963
Robert R. Moton High School for African Americans on county road 628 in Prince Edward County, Va. This was the name of the school at the time the photo was taken in 1962. View of the sign found in front of all schools which were on frequently traveled roads. The school was built in 1953, two years after the boycott by students at the original Robert R. Moton High School. This building had a pupil capacity of 650 and served grades 8-12. It was one of only two schools for African Americans in the county to have indoor plumbing and either steam or hot water heat. Later renamed Prince Edward County High School., 37.2662637, -78.3994397, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.267097,%20-78.4033286, Robert R. Moton High School (Prince Edward County), Prince Edward County High School, African Americans, high schools

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