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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Farmville Elementary School (former), Farmville, Va., 2001 [View Image]
Farmville Elementary School (former), Farmville, Va., 2001
Farmville Elementary School for African Americans on S. Main St., Farmville, Va. It was also said to be the African American high school (first Robert R. Moton High School) prior to 1939., 37.2932921, -78.3954923, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2932921,%20-78.3954923, Prince Edward Recreation Center, Farmville Elementary School (Main Street); Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville); Mary E. Branch Elementary School #1, African Americans, elementary schools
Farmville Elementary School (former), Farmville, Va., 2003 [View Image]
Farmville Elementary School (former), Farmville, Va., 2003
Former Farmville Elementary School for African Americans on S. Main St., Farmville, Va. It was also said to be the African American high school (first Robert R. Moton High School) prior to 1939., 37.2932921, -78.3954923, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2932921,%20-78.3954923, Prince Edward Recreation Center, Farmville Elementary School (Main Street); Robert R. Moton High School (Farmville); Mary E. Branch Elementary School #1, African Americans, elementary schools
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963
Farmville Elementary School for whites on Pine St. in Farmville, Va. Viewed from the south on Pine St. The brick school building is situated on the campus of Longwood College, at the time a state teacher's college for women, established in 1884. The use of this school was discontinued in 1959., Farmville Elementary School (Pine Street), Whites, elementary schools
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963
Farmville Elementary School for whites on Pine St. in Farmville, Va. Rear and side view. The brick school building is situated on the campus of Longwood College, at the time a state teacher's college for women, established in 1884. The use of this school was discontinued in 1959. Longwood College buildings can be seen to the right and construction for college expansion is in the foreground., Farmville Elementary School (Pine Street), Whites, elementary schools
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville Elementary School, Farmville, Va., 1962-1963
Farmville Elementary School for whites on Pine St. in Farmville, Va. Viewed from the north on Pine St. The brick school building is situated on the campus of Longwood College, at the time a state teacher's college for women, established in 1884. The use of this school was discontinued in 1959. Longwood College student is seen in the foreground., Farmville Elementary School (Pine Street), Whites, elementary schools
Farmville High School, Farmville, Va., front view, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville High School, Farmville, Va., front view, 1962-1963
Farmville High School for whites on 1st Ave. and School St. in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va. View of front of building. This building included an auditorium and gym. Built in 1927, with an addition in 1937, it served grades 8-12 with a pupil capacity of 350. Two stories, handsome brick, well painted and a large fenced in area in the back. In good condition at the time the photograph was taken. It had both indoor plumbing and either steam or hot water heat., 37.2976521, -78.4019402, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2976521,%20-78.4019402, Farmville High School, Whites, high schools
Farmville High School, Farmville, Va., rear view, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville High School, Farmville, Va., rear view, 1962-1963
Farmville High School for whites on 1st Ave. and School St. in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va. View of rear of building. This building included an auditorium and gym. Built in 1927, with an addition in 1937, it served grades 8-12 with a pupil capacity of 350. Two stories, handsome brick, well painted and a large fenced in area in the back. In good condition at the time the photograph was taken. It had both indoor plumbing and either steam or hot water heat., 37.2976521, -78.4019402, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.2976521,%20-78.4019402, Farmville High School, Whites, high schools
Farmville, Va., downtown street scene, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Farmville, Va., downtown street scene, 1962-1963
Street scene in downtown Farmville, Va. In center of the picture are two stern-faced whites in car solemnly discussing something of presumed great importance to a frowning African American woman.
Farmville, Va., town line north of Appomattox River in 1962 [View Image]
Farmville, Va., town line north of Appomattox River in 1962
Farmville, Va., town line north of Appomattox River in 1962. View is from Cumberland County Bridge. At left leads across the river into Farmville., 37.3071616, -78.3892273, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.3071616,%20-78.3892273
Farmville, Va., white doctor's office, 1962-1962 [View Image]
Farmville, Va., white doctor's office, 1962-1962
White doctor's office in Farmville, Va. White patients were allowed to enter through porch shown. African American patients were expected to follow the instructions on the sign.
Felden Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., center front classroom, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Felden Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., center front classroom, 1962-1963
Felden Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 647 (formerly 677), off of Farmville Rd., in Prince Edward County, Va. Center-front classroom with view of wood stove. A three-room schoolhouse, it was built in 1912. It served grades 1-5 and had a pupil capacity of 90. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was weather beaten and the door was battered open. Cattle, mules, horses, a goat and a peach orchid were in fields nearby., 37.1932079, -78.4291616, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.1932079,%20-78.4291616, Felden Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools
Felden Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., center front classroom, 1962-1963 [View Image]
Felden Elementary School, Prince Edward County, Va., center front classroom, 1962-1963
Felden Elementary School for African Americans on secondary road 647 (formerly 677), off of Farmville Rd., in Prince Edward County, Va. Center-front classroom interior. A three-room schoolhouse, it was built in 1912. It served grades 1-5 and had a pupil capacity of 90. There was no indoor plumbing and no steam or hot water heat. At the time the photograph was taken, it was weather beaten and the door was battered open. Cattle, mules, horses, a goat and a peach orchid were in fields nearby., 37.1932079, -78.4291616, http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.1932079,%20-78.4291616, Felden Elementary School, African Americans, elementary schools

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