Virginia Union University, a historically black university located in Richmond, Virginia, traces its roots back to the Wayland Seminary, founded in 1865 by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society (ABHMS). The institution, however, is the result of the merger of four institutions: Wayland Seminary, Richmond Theological Seminary, Hartshorn Memorial College, and Storer College.
Following the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865, branches of the National Theological Institute in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia decided to establish separate schools in Richmond to educate ex-slaves. The Washington organization received a $1,500 grant from the Freedmens Bureau and established Wayland Seminary, named after Dr. Francis Wayland, former president of Brown University and a leader in the anti-slavery struggle. Among Waylands most prominent alumni are Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. and Booker T. Washington.
The Richmond Theological Seminary was initially established in 1867 at Lumpkins Jail, a former holding place for runaway slaves by Reverend Nathaniel Colver, an abolitionist. Colver secured a lease at Lumpkins Jail in the summer of 1867 and began teaching courses in the autumn of that year. In 1868 he handed the school over to Dr. Charles Henry Corey, a former chaplain in the Union Army, due to his declining health. The ABHMS Board honored Colver by naming the school the Colver Institute. The Institute became the first in the South to employ African American teaching assistants and faculty and in 1876 began offering curricula which included preparatory, academic, and theological. The school was also incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly in 1876 under the name the Richmond Institute. It later became the Richmond Theological Seminary.
In 1883, the ABHMS established Hartshorn Memorial College, one of the first institutions created exclusively for the education of African American women. By the 1890s the ABHMS pushed plans to merge Wayland Seminary and Richmond Theological Seminary. In 1899