Posts Tagged Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives

Frederick Douglass addresses students at Washington City’s Charles Sumner School; including grand-daughter of Mount Vernon Mary E. Syphax and future husband of Mary Church Terrell (1874)

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New National Era

Following the American Civil War the movement to establish normal schools, colleges and universities of, for and by peoples of African descent in large part emanated from established private and public support networks out of Washington City from collective efforts of elected officials, Union generals, Northern philanthropists, reformist clergy and radical educators of African descent.

Within this distinctive culture and community of D.C.’s “aristocrats of color” was an inherited obligation and guiding responsibility to use their influence to reach back to uplift the children and grandchildren of the recently emancipated. 

Among Black American elite families leading the charge to establish and endow a transformative public colored school system in Washington City were the Syphaxes of Mount Vernon and Arlington House, as well the multi-generational Douglass family. 

The Douglass family, their patriarch Honorable Frederick (Bailey) Douglass along with his sons and daughters-in-laws, and the Syphax family, led by William Syphax (1825 – 1891) and Charles Syphax (1829 – 1885), worked together during the first generation of Washington City’s Public Colored Schools at all levels of support from attending examinations in school houses throughout the city to lobbying members of Congress for increased resources.

Following the American Civil War, Washington City’s Public Colored school system quickly became a shining “example for all the land” for the nation’s Freedman communities to emulate. 

Building from an existing school house infrastructure established before and during the War for students of African descent, Washington’s colored schools had a long-established tradition of preparing homegrown talent, such as the fiery William Calvin Chase, who would became leaders within local and national circles, as well preparing students to light out into the larger country to make a lasting impact within communities of African-descended peoples by establishing schools, businesses, banks, newspapers and other institutions vital to Black American life.

Benevolence, political support and social investment in the city’s schools was not wanting from the leading families of Washington City from the Bruces to Cooks to Langstons to Shadds to Douglasses to Syphaxes.

With leading Black American scholars and activists at the head of the classroom, DC’s Colored Schools independently produced prodigious talent. Many of the first Black American graduates of this country’s oldest and most prestigious colleges and universities were either graduates of DC’s Colored Schools, or instructors within DC’s Colored schools, or both.

The Douglass grandchildren attended schools throughout the city, matriculating, alongside their groundbreaking classmates, to earn the first diplomas conferred by America’s Ivy League universities to scholars descended from the families of American enslavement. (Haley George Douglass attended DC’s Colored Schools before graduating from Harvard in 1905 where upon he taught, and coached football, at the M Street School (Dunbar) for generations.) 

As their parents were respected within the communities of Old Anacostia, Barry Farm and Hillsdale as the founding teachers and administers of schools serving families from the Diaspora of American enslavement, the Douglass grandchildren were respected for their scholastic achievement in a competitive and meritorious classroom.  


A frequent presence at school ceremonies, in 1874 Frederick Douglass offered remarks at a public examination of the Sumner School. In a letter to the New National Era “STYLUS” reported: 

“The medals and diplomas were conferred on the scholars with appropriate remarks by Hon. Wm. Stickney, Pres. of the Council of the District of Columbia after which Hon. Frederick Douglass Sr. addressed the audience in a short and terse speech most congratulatory to the students.”

“Among the distinguished gentlemen present were Messrs Hon. Wm. Stickney, Z. Richards, Rev J. Sella Martin, Hon. Lewis Douglass, Editor of the “NEW NATIONAL ERA,” Hon. Frederick Douglass Sr., J. H. Brooks Esq., Geo. T. Downing, Prof. Sampson, Judge Garland of Texas, J. L. Venable Esq. Trustees Smith, Lewis, Pope, Rider, Marshal and Johnson and others. 

The teachers and scholars are worthy of much praise for efforts in making this a success.”


Among the notable students participating in the Sumner School’s public examination in June 1874 was a grand-daughter of Mount Vernon, Washingtonian Mary E. Syphax (1859 – 1899), daughter of Charles Syphax (1829 – 1885), grand-daughter of Charles (1791 – 1869) and Maria Carter Custis Syphax (1804 – 1886), great grand-daughter of George Washington Parke Custis (1781 – 1857), great-great grand-daughter of John Parke Custis and great-great-great grand-daughter of Martha Washington (1731 – 1802). 

Members of the respected Syphax family worked closely with Frederick Douglass to raise funds to establish and support the growth of DC’s Public colored school system. Members of the Syphax and Douglass families are well accounted for and represented within the ranks of graduates and faculty of Washington City’s public colored schools for generations. 

The importance of the intersectionality, associations and contributions of these leading families has yet to be told.

After graduating Mary Syphax taught at the John F. Cook School, and in 1881 married at Rev. Francis Grimke’s 15th Street Presbyterian Church. 

In January 1884 Rev. Grimke officiated the private wedding ceremony of Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts.

Tragically Mary Elinor “Mamie” Syphax Brodie passed after a short illness in December 1899 at the age of 40. She was survived by her husband and children.

We cannot overstate the historical significance and consequence of the service and examples set by these leading Black American families — the Douglasses and the Syphaxes — and what their contributions to the social fabric of this country in their time mean to us today. 

JHM & JLM 

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Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS (Due April 30, 2019

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Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS


Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is accepting proposals January 18 – April 30, 2019 for our annual summer research forum with the following objectives:

Honor the Life, Memory, and Contributions of Richard L. Hurlbut and James D. Walker.

Introduce and Engage the public with the Sumner Museum Collection.

Promote the work and valued research of individuals who have used the Sumner Archives as one of their major resources for a finished work; i.e. book, dissertation, film, community project, etc.

Facilitate lively discussion about the culture, history, and legacy of DC Public Education.

The summer forum will occur on the third Wednesday of each month, June-August from 6:30 – 9:00 PM. The forum is free and open to the public. 

Call for Proposals for the following research forum dates:
June 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
August 21, 2019


HOW TO SUBMIT:

If you are interested in being a featured speaker, please submit a summary of what you would like to present in under 200 words. Be specific when referencing the completed work or if the work is in-progress. This includes, but is not limited to book, film, dissertation, thesis, community project, oral history project, etc. Your selected presentation must include significant use of the Sumner Museum Collection as a resource. All submissions must include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and professional/organizational affiliation. Please note which of the 3 dates you are available to present in order of preference.

For consideration, please e-mail your submission by C.O.B. April 30, 2019 to info.sumnerschool@dc.gov. Submissions will be reviewed within the week of May 1st and notifications will be sent out by May 15, 2019.

We look forward to another outstanding series!

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2nd Annual Harriet Tubman Day @ Charles Sumner Museum & Archives (Fri, March 8, 2019)

HTubman LOC archiveFriday, March 8, 2019

6:00 pm Light Reception

7:00 pm Program

Charles Sumner Museum & Archives

1201 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036

Presented by
Tina Wyatt
Founder, Washington, D.C. Harriet Tubman
& the thrice great grand niece of Harriet Tubman

 

 

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Video: UDC Forum: Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives and Director Kimberly Springle

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Thank you Sumner School Museum and Archives for hosting “Lost History of Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools”

Image may contain: 1 personThe tradition, legacy and history of DC Public Schools is of national consequence. In the immediate years following the Civil War a citywide public school system was formalized and organized for “colored children.”

Dr. Frederick Douglass and the Douglass Family were steadfast supporters and advocates for the entirety of the school system from its teachers to its students to its administrators to its philanthropic benefactors to its supporters in the US House and US Senate.

Dr. Douglass, a former night school teacher in Baltimore, lectured to support night schools in Washington City. Charles Douglass, the youngest Douglass son, was a night school teacher in Old Barry Farm. Virginia Douglass, wife of Frederick Douglass, Jr., served as a principal in Old Anacostia.

The Douglassess supported DC Public Schools and were thusly integral in elevating DCPS in its importance both locally and nationally to the educational and social uplifting of African-Americans. The first African-American graduate of Harvard, the first four African-American women to obtain a doctorate and Carter G. Woodson are just some of those who either attended or educated within the DC Public School System. Haley George Douglass, the Harvard-educated grandson of Dr. Douglass, taught at Dunbar Senior High School for four decades.

We extend our sincerest appreciation for the work of Director Kimberly Springle of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives and for the opportunity to present on a topic of great personal interest.


Editor’s Note:

On the backroads of Sandy Spring are families and tribes who family lore tells of ancestors being taught be Emily Edmonson Johnson, a friend of Dr. Douglass and teacher at Miner Normal School. I attended school with the descendants of those taught by Mrs. E. Edmonson Johnson so therefore it is my obligation to uplift the fallen and lost history.

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Lost History of Dr. Frederick Douglass and DC Public Schools” -> Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives – February 16, 2019 @ 10:30 AM (17th & M Street NW – Downtown Washington, D.C.)

FD & DCPS _ Sumner Museum _ 2.16.2018

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2019 Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: Call For Proposals (Due April 30, 2019)

Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum: CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is accepting proposals January 18 – April 30, 2019 for our annual summer research forum with the following objectives:

Honor the Life, Memory, and Contributions of Richard L. Hurlbut and James D. Walker.

Introduce and Engage the public with the Sumner Museum Collection.
Promote the work and valued research of individuals who have used the Sumner Archives as one of their major resources for a finished work; i.e. book, dissertation, film, community project, etc.

Facilitate lively discussion about the culture, history, and legacy of DC Public Education.

The summer forum will occur on the third Wednesday of each month, June-August from 6:30-9:00pm. The forum is free and open to the public.

Call for Proposals for the following research forum dates:
June 19, 2019
July 17, 2019
August 21, 2019

HOW TO SUBMIT:
If you are interested in being a featured speaker, please submit a summary of what you would like to present in under 200 words. Be specific when referencing the completed work or if the work is in-progress. This includes, but is not limited to book, film, dissertation, thesis, community project, oral history project, etc. Your selected presentation must include significant use of the Sumner Museum Collection as a resource. All submissions must include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and professional/organizational affiliation. Please note which of the 3 dates you are available to present in order of preference.

For consideration, please e-mail your submission by C.O.B. April 30, 2019 to info.sumnerschool@dc.gov.

Submissions will be reviewed within the week of May 1st and notifications will be sent out by May 15, 2019.

We look forward to another outstanding series!

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Enhancing the Narrative of DC Public Schools: A Wikipedia Editing Workshop [Sat, January 19, 2019 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM EST

Image may contain: 1 person, textJoin us at Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives and help to improve and create Wikipedia articles about the history of public education in the District of Columbia. No Wikipedia editing experience is necessary, as training will be provided. Reference materials from the Sumner Archives will be readily available.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Lunch will be provided.

Laptops are required. Please bring your own.

Wikimedia DC has two laptops to loan. Reserve one by emailing info@wikimediadc.org

REGISTER HERE!

Location

Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives [corner of 17th & M]

1201 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20036

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Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives Open House & presentation on Dr. Kelly Miller by Morgan State University Archivist Dr. Ida E. Jones – Saturday, December 15, 2018 – 10am – 3pm

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METRO:

Rail: Farragut North / Farragut West / McPherson Square

Bus: S2, S4, S9, 54


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Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum presentation on “The First Ladies of Education” [Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, Thurs., August 16, 2018, 6:30pm]


Our last Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum for summer 2018 is on

Thursday, August 16 at 6:30pm. 

Join Dr. DeWitt S. Williams in a discussion about three African-American women who were among the first to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.

This event is Free and Open to the Public. 

A light reception will follow the dynamic discussion.

RSVP via phone: 202-730-0479  or email: info.sumnerschool@dc.gov

The Hurlbut-Walker Memorial Research Forum is an annual event that highlights the work developed by public researchers who have accessed the Sumner Museum Archives and honors the life and legacy of Richard Hurlbut and James Walker.

For more information about this series and the Sumner Museum, please e-mail us at info.sumnerschool@dc.gov

 

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