New Orleans University

Contributors

In 1874, the Methodist-Episcopal Church and the Freedmen’s Aid Society opened New Orleans University, [1] one of four schools for African American youth in the city. [2] New Orleans University continued to serve New Orleans and Louisiana until 1935 when it officially closed and combined with Straight University to form Dillard University. [3] New Orleans University’s Music School and Printing School were a part of the University’s holistic approach to African American education.

New Orleans University

Location

The University began on the corner of Camp and Race. This location was too small, and when the University wanted to expand, it moved its campus to 1428 St. Charles (5318 St. Charles under the new numbering system) in 1884. After the building was completed in 1889, the University had the space to add all the departments that it wanted. Music instruction and performances were located in the main building. It was a five-story, Victorian structure that measured 150 feet across. This majestic brick building included a dining room, kitchen, chapel, and library. It also housed 150 students and faculty in residence. This building cost an astonishing $100,000 to build. [4] Covering two square blocks, the campus also contained various dormitories and other classroom buildings, including the printing facilities. [5]

Demographics

New Orleans University was created by the Freedmen’s Aid Society as part of an initiative to advance African American education in the United States. The Freedmen’s Aid Society’s schools were an attempt to get the newly freed black population onto the same educational level as the white elites. The University did accept members of any race, but most students were of black or of mixed heritage. [6]

Students

The majority of students who attended New Orleans University were women, who were students in almost all departments of the school. The New Orleans University Medical School presented a diploma to a female doctor in 1900 with the quote: “For no fact is now better demonstrated than the fact that women make successful medical students and practitioners.” [7] Both the Music and Printing schools were overwhelmingly female. Several other departments such as the Peck Memorial Home for established just for the education of young women. [8] The school wasn’t entirely progressive; Some classes were taught to men and women separately. Furthermore, a listing of university fees revealed that laundry services were provided to boys but not girls. [9] At first glance this may appear to be a chauvinistic policy, but actually it this was less about women’s place but more so about the male students’ ineptitude with laundry.

The white cultural elites of the nineteenth century would certainly view New Orleans University as low culture. Money was not a requirement to attend the school because tuition was only one dollar a month with room and board usually no more than twelve dollars a month. In a Daily Picayune article, the school is described as “a school of manual training.” [10] New Orleans University was much more than that. In the personal letters of Lettie Landry, a relative of one the legislators responsible for the University’s charter, she writes to her sisters. Landry’s letters show a very eloquent young lady. She attended the New Orleans University’s grammar school, college preparatory school, and finally the university itself, graduating with a degree in Classics. [11] Throughout her school life she was also heavily involved with the Music School. She was highly educated, and her letters are indistinguishable from those of an upper class white woman of the same era. [12]

Faculty

Teaching at New Orleans University was often a family affair. The name Adkinson appeared many times in the lists of faculty in the New Orleans University Catalogue over the years. [13] Judging from these lists, many students came back to teach at the University after they graduated from there. The university faculty greatly expanded during the nineteenth century. In 1887, the school gained a music teacher with a bachelor’s degree in music. [14] Many teachers in other fields were equally well educated. These teachers were determined to nurture a new generation of intelligent, sophisticated African American youth.

Music School

Music was always a part of the school’s educational system, and, in the late 1880’s, the New Orleans University developed the Music School, which was officially recognized as a separate department in the school year of 1890 with its first graduating class of one student in 1891. [15] Over the years, the Music School produced many African American musicians and held performances to expose the New Orleans African American community to the arts. The Music School remained part of the school until it merged with Straight in 1935. [16]

Performances

Because this was a parochial school, musical performances on the campus were usually held in the chapel. Pianos, pipe organs, and mandolins were instruments commonly played, as well as voice performances. [17] Off campus, New Orleans University students participated in many city performances. For example, students performed in the Colored Education Day music celebration in May of 1885. [18] They also performed at the Colored State Fair in 1887. [19]

Education

Even before the Music School, music lessons were offered as a supplement to students’ education, and vocal lessons were required of all students. In the late 1890s, the music requirement shifted to become a graduation requirement. [20]

Printing School

The New Orleans University Printing School was a subsection of the Industrial School. Similar to the music program, printing had been a part of the university’s culture since its beginning, but the actual department was not officially established until 1890. Printing facilities remained part of the university until its closing, but the Printing School was discontinued in the early 1900s when the Industrial School was slowly transformed into a Domestic School for young women. [21]

Publications

There were two main publications coming out of the Printing School in the early days of the University, the University Catalogue and the University Paper, “The Crescent.” [22] The University Paper underwent many name changes and finally settled on “Tiger” in 1934. [23] The University Catalogue was produced near the end of the school year as a preview for the following year. It included listings of faculty, students according to department, class schedules, department descriptions, and rules and regulations of the University. These catalogues covered the functions of school handbook, faculty and student directory, and course catalogues. As the school grew, so did the Catalogue, as more departments and schools were added. The Catalogue added advertisements to the last few pages to help pay for the cost of publication. A frequent advertiser was the Daily Picayune. [24]

Works Cited

  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1874. p. 2.
  • “Colored Statistics: Ample Provision for the Higher Education of the Negro.” The Daily Picayune. 29 September 1892.
  • “Within These Walls: A Short History of Dillard University.” Will W. Alexander Library Archives. http://books.dillard.edu/Archives/history.htm.
  • “A Colored College: The New Orleans University Formally Dedicated Yesterday.” The Daily Picayune. 8 June 1889.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1889. p. 44-45.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926), Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1874. p. 2.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1895. p. 49.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1888. p. 22.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1887. p. 32.
  • “Colored Statistics: Ample Provision for the Higher Education of the Negro.” The Daily Picayune. 29 September 1892.
  • “Memorabilia Nellie Landry.” Dunn-Landry Family Letters. Box 4-5: 1983. Amistad Research Center.
  • “Correspondence Nellie Landry.” Dunn-Landry Family Letters. Box 4-4: 1897. Amistad Research Center.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1889. p. 8-9.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1887, p. 7.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1899. p. 8-10.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1926-1934). Microfilm Reel 2. Amistad Research Center. 1934. p. 15.
  • “New Orleans University: The Annual Recital of the Music Department.” The Daily Picayune. 1 May 1897.
  • “World’s Exposition: Celebration of Colored Education Day.” The Daily Picayune. 15 May 1885.
  • “Second Day of the Colored State Fair.” The Daily Picayune. 9 November 1887.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1899. p. 22.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1926-1934). Microfilm Reel 2. Amistad Research Center. 1904. p. 21.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1896. p. 37.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1926-1934). Microfilm Reel 2. Amistad Research Center. 1934. p. 17.
  • “New Orleans University Catalogue.” (1874-1926). Microfilm Reel 1. Amistad Research Center. 1888. Advertisement.

This page was last modified on 03 May 2012, at 11:08

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New Orleans University

5318 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA

VIEW PLACE PROFILE

New Orleans University

5318 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA

VIEW PLACE PROFILE

New Orleans University

5318 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA