Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Discovering "The Colored Teachers' Agency" - Part One

This is the first in a series of posts about The Colored Teachers' Agency which was established to help African American teachers find employment.  I first stumbled upon a reference to The Colored Teachers' Agency in an article in "The People's Recorder 1893-1925" on Chronicling America.  I. M. A. Meyers was the manager of the agency in Greenwood,  South Carolina.

 I have ancestors who were teachers, and I was fascinated to know there was a agency such as this charged with helping African American teachers find employment. They were required to pay a yearly membership fee and received help finding dues, as the ad says below on September 11, 1909.  In this particular case, the agency had secured eight good paying jobs. 

The people's recorder. (Columbia, S.C.) 1893-1925, September 11, 1909, Image 1

Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025797/1909-09-11/ed-1/seq-1/

As I widened my search, I discovered yet another reference to "The Colored Teacher's Agency" in "The Appeal (Saint Paul, Minn 1889-19??)"  This ad had been placed in the paper by the Manager of the National Colored Teachers' Agency in Washington, D. C., Thomas J. Calloway.

The Appeal. (Saint Paul, Minn. ;) 1889-19??, August 20, 1892, Page 2, Image 2

Image provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016810/1892-08-20/ed-1/seq-2/

So I had  by now concluded that various states had a chapter of this agency and probably fell under the umbrella of the national organization.  Below, I will discuss a little bit more about the life of Thomas J. Calloway.

Just above the article on the bottom right corner of this page was an advertisement for Wilberforce University in Ohio.  I was pleasantly surprised since this was a St. Paul, Minnesota paper.  This is my mother's Alma Mater.

The Appeal. (Saint Paul, Minn. ;) 1889-19??, August 20, 1892, Page 2, Image 2

Image provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016810/1892-08-20/ed-1/seq-2/

I next embarked on an online search using Google to see if I could find more references to the agency. I found an ebook on the website,  Hathi Trust Digital Library.  I was overjoyed to discover that it is The Teacher's Handbook published by The Colored Teachers' Agency.

Calloway, Lettie Nolen. [from old catalog]. Teachers' Hand-book: Hints On How to Teach Beginners, Language, Grammar, Reading, Orthography, Arithmetic, Geography, History, Penmanship, Drawing, And Vocal Music, And Quotations, Pithy And Choice, From Classical Literature.Washington, D.C.: The Colored teachers' agency, 1893. 
I am quite anxious to read this book and share my reflections.  We can learn from the book that The Colored Teachers' Agency had the approval of Frederick Douglass:

"The enterprise is endorsed by Hon. Frederick Douglass who knows a good thing when he sees it--and the press generally.  Mr Calloway is a reliable gentleman and when he undertakes anything he generally succeeds with it.  He was at one time the Washington correspondent of the Plaindealer at Detroit, and contributed a series of readable articles on the public schools of the South.  He is just the man for the work.  Washington News Syndicate"  (page 33, The Teachers' Handbook).

It was written by Lettie Nolen Calloway, and we will need to prove her relationship to Thomas J. Calloway.  Thomas J. Calloway graduated from Fisk University in 1889, and from Howard University School of Law in  1893. He was a high school assistant professor in Evansville, Indiana, President of Alcorn University in West Side, Mississippi, and a War Department in Washington, D. C., as well as President of a normal school in Helena, Arkansas. SeePhotography on the color line: W.E.B. Du Bois, race, and visual culture
By Shawn Michelle Smith, page 167.

Prof. Thomas J. Calloway, A.B.... Digital ID: 1228828. New York Public Library

Image Title

:  Prof. Thomas J. Calloway, A.B. : President Alcorn A. & M. college, West Side, Miss.

Published Date

: c1900?


: The college of life : or, Practical self-educator, a manual of self-improvement for the colored race forming an educational emancipator and a guide to success. Giving examples and achievements of successful men and women of the race as an incentive and inspiration to the rising generation, including Afro-American progress illustrated. The whole embracing business, social, domestic, historical and religious education. / by Henry Davenport Northrop, Joseph R. Gay, and I. Garland Penn ; embellished with hundreds of superb engravings.


: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture / Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division

I cannot resist thinking about how The Colored Teacher's Agency seems to me like an earlier version of an employment agency.  I have so many questions in my mind.  I am curious to know when it was first created and if any records survive that would identify teachers or those who applied for membership.  I am equally as anxious to read the handbook to see what I can glean.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

McGill Sleeps in UpState Slave Dwelling at Price House

This is the most recent blog by Joseph McGill Jr. highlighting a recent stay at a slave dwelling in the UpState.  How fortunate were the students at Woodruff Elementary who had the opportunity to partake in this "living" history event.  Thank you so much for working so diligently to save and preserve our history, Joe! Please see the schedule of events below for the Slave Dwelling Project in 2012 so you do not miss out when it comes to a location near you!

Robin Foster

McGill Sleeps in UpState Slave Dwelling at Price House
by Joseph McGill, Jr.
Program Officer, Southern Office
 National Trust for Historic Preservation |
William Aiken House, 456 King Street, 3rd Floor, Charleston, SC 29403 | Phone: 843.722.8552 |
Fax: 843.722.8652 | Email: joseph_mcgill@nthp.org |www.preservationnation.org

Nannie Jeffries, museum administrator of the Spartanburg County Historical Association, must be commended for being a visionary. It was late 2010 when she first proposed that I spend a night in the slave cabin at the Price House. Back then, the Slave Dwelling Project was in its infancy and even I had my doubts that the project would still be going on today. Nannie was determined and she made it happen in a big way. She incorporated the project into her three day Black history month program titled Persistence & Perseverance: Standing on the Shoulders of Others.

Because of Nannie's meticulous planning, I had the opportunity to survey the cabin prior to the time I was scheduled to stay. On this visit, the vastness of the cabin in comparison to some of the others I stayed in gave me the grandiose idea that many others would have the opportunity to join me for the experience. The functional fire place gave me the fantasy of cooking in the cabin; that would be a first. With the exception of the cooking possibility, this had the potential to be similar to the experience I had at Evergreen Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana when 20 people joined me for the sleep over.

As planned, I arrived early on Thursday, February 17. I met Zac Cunningham the site director and care taker. Woodruff Elementary School students were scheduled to come to visit the site. Prior to their visit, I wanted to prepare the cabin by starting a fire in the fire place and laying out my Civil War uniform accouterment.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders arrived as planned and were separated for the cabin presentation accordingly. These “teachable moments” were similar to the one at the slave dwelling in Egypt, Texas when I had the opportunity to address a class that visited the slave dwelling there. This opportunity was more thorough because I am far more familiar with South Carolina’s history than I am with that of Texas. Two print media representatives were also present and stayed as long as the kids did.

After a nice lunch at a nice restaurant in Spartanburg that included the board chairman of the
Spartanburg County Historical Association, it was my goal to get back to the cabin long before dark because of my plans to cook. Additionally, one of the media outlets from the morning event made plans to come back at 6:00 pm for some additional coverage. I planned to make beef stew from scratch so it had to be well on its way before dark. I had acquired all of the necessary ingredients and was confident that I could pull it off.

Once I got dinner going, I got a phone call from “old reliable” Terry James, fellow Civil War reenactor. Since Terry’s first slave dwelling stay at Brattonsville in McConnels, SC in November 2010, he has not missed a South Carolina stay since. He even stayed in the slave dwelling at Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, NC. He has a total of six stays five of which he slept in shackles. Terry stated he was on his way. He and the photographer got there at the same time. After the photographer took several pictures, the writer showed up to obtain additional information for the piece she was writing.

After several hours of cooking, the beef stew was ready for consumption. I, Terry and Zac all had our share. No one complained we all even had seconds and more. That experience made me appreciate all that was necessary to cook a meal in a slave dwelling.

In anticipation of a TV camera crew showing up at 4:30 am, Terry and I turned in early. Terry again slept in the slave shackles. As scheduled, the TV crew showed up at the appointed time. We did a few live takes before I had to wash up and change clothes so that I could moderate the Black History Month symposium that was taking place at the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg.

Maybe I was ambitious in my thoughts when I wished that several people would share the experience with me by spending the night in the slave cabin at the Price House. Interacting with the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from Woodruff Elementary School made that concern irrelevant because they too have a network of people that they can tell about their experience. Maybe I was ambitious when I said I would cook in the cabin, but I will do it again if given the opportunity in the future. Maybe I thought that Nannie Jefferies was ambitious when she set the date for me to stay at the Price House but it is visionaries like her who keep me grounded and let me know that this project is a lot bigger than me. The project is about those places that when restored can tell the stories of the people who once lived in them. So with that, I am proud that the Price House was the first stay in 2012 for the Slave Dwelling

Related articles

Historic Price House

Man seeks to preserve humblest of dwellings

Slave Dwelling Project in Holly Springs (misspreservation.com)

Slave Dwelling Project 2012

January 19 Lecture @ Claflin College, Orangeburg, SC
February 11 Lecture @ Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC
February 16 & 17 Stay & Lecture Price House, Spartanburg, SC
February 26 Lecture @ Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, N. Chas, SC
March 15 – 18 Coming to the Table, Richmond, VA
March 22 Lecture @ Williamsburg Co. Library, Kingstree, SC
March 23 Stay @ Friendfield Plantation, Georgetown, SC
March 30 – 31 Stay & Lecture @ Bush-Holley House, Greenwich, Conn
April 5 Stay @ Seibels House Kitchen House, Columbia, SC
April 6 Stay @ Lexington County Museum, Lexington, SC
April 12– 15 Stay & Lecture, Holly Springs, Mississippi
April 27 & 28 Stay & Lecture Sautee-Nacoochee, GA
June 11 Lecture @ Old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC
June 22 Lecture & Stay Heyward Washington House, Chs. SC
October 5 & 6 Stay & Lecture Bacon’s Castle, Surry, Virginia
November 9 & 10 Stay@ Boone Hall Plantation, Mt. Pleasant, SC
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