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HBCU Timeline: 1837 to 1870

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education established with the purpose of providing training and education to African-Americans. 

When the Institute for Colored Youth was established in 1837, its purpose was to teach 

African-Americans skills necessary to be competitive in the 19th Century job market. Students learned to read, write, basic math skills, mechanics and agriculture.

In later years, the Institute for Colored Youth was a training ground for educators.

Other institutions followed with the mission of training freed African-American men and women.

It is important to note that several religious institutions such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), United Church of Christ, Presbyterian and American Baptist provided funding to establish many schools. 

1837: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania opens its doors. Established by Quaker Richard Humphreys as the “Institute for Colored Youth,” Cheyney University is the oldest historically black school of higher education. Famous alumni includes educator and civil rights activist Josephine Silone Yates. 

1851: The University of the District of Columbia is established. Known as the “Miner Normal School,” as a school to educate African-American women.

1854: The Ashnum Institute is founded in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Today, it is Lincoln University.

1856: Wilberforce University was established by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Named for abolitionist William Wilberforce, it is the first school owned and operated by African-Americans.

1862: LeMoyne-Owen College is established in Memphis by the United Church of Christ.

Originally founded as the LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School, the institution operated as an elementary school until 1870.  

1864: Wayland Seminary opens its doors. By 1889, the school merges with Richmond Institute to become Virginia Union University.

1865: Bowie State University is founded as Baltimore Normal School.

Clark Atlanta University is established by the United

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