Skip to main content

Rosenwald Schools: Introduction


Following the Civil War, the federal Freedmen's Bureau set up schools for black people throughout the South. However, the local communities and state governments typically were not supportive of efforts to educate newly freed black people. Because of this reality, black school children often learned with out-dated, hand-me-down books and supplies in rundown under-funded school buildings. In 1912, Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, approached Chicago businessman and philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald, about a vision to build new school buildings for black children1912-1932

The collaboration resulted in more than 5,000 new public schools for black children in the South. 

Booker T. Washington

Book cover art for Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington


Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia on April 5, 1856. Washington put himself through school, became a teacher and rose in prominence to become one of America's most influential educators. He was a graduate of Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia, and in 1881, Washington founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University). In 1912, Washington and his colleague, William H. Baldwin, Jr., partnered with Julius Rosenwald to create an initiative that would build more than 5,000 new public schools for black children in 15 states in the South.

Learn More


The Rosenwald Schools: Work in Progress. Click image to begin.

Source: The Rosenwald Schools on YouTube

Trailer for the film Rosenwald. Click image to begin.

Source: Rosenwald on YouTube


This guide originally was created for College of Coastal Georgia. Special thanks to CCGA librarians for allowing us to use this material.

Julius Rosenwald

Book cover art for Julius Rosenwald


Julius Rosenwald was born on August 12, 1862, to Jewish immigrants in Springfield, Ill. He was a businessman and part-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago. Rosenwald also was known for his philanthropy. He served on the board of directors of Tuskegee Institute and provided matching funds to build new state-of-the-art schoolhouses for African-American children in the South.


Image of an older Julius Rosenwald in a suit and hat.

Learn More