Opening Doors Through Higher Education

Faculty at the Leonard Medical School, ca. 1902. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty at the Leonard Medical School, ca. 1902. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill

 

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina’s black history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit from our state’s African American’s past. Often referred to as the oldest historically black institution of higher learning in the South, Shaw University was founded by Henry M. Tupper, a white minister and Union Army veteran from Massachusetts in 1865.

Etsy Hall at Shaw University ca. 1873. Image from the State Archives Etsy Hall at Shaw University ca. 1873. Image from the State Archives

 

Begun as a theological class which met just north of the Capitol grounds, the school became the Shaw Collegiate Institute in 1870 after the receipt of a major gift. In 1875 the General Assembly granted a formal charter to the university. From 1882 to 1918 Shaw operated Leonard Medical School, which, during that period, educated more than 400 African American physicians. Four other medical schools for African-Americans predated it, but Leonard was the first such school in the United States to offer a four-year graded curriculum of the sort used today. The four-year course of study was made the standard in 1893, eleven years after Leonard had instituted it.

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