Explanation of Database Topics and Organizations

Girl with Tomatoes

Below are definitions of various topics and organizations that are mentioned in the Jackson Davis database.



Country Life Movement

The Country Life Movement took place across the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. The movement was a widespread and eclectic mixture of rural nostalgia, a desire to make agriculture more efficient and profitable, humanitarianism, and economic self-interest. The industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century contributed greatly to the decline of the farm population. By 1910, less than one-third of the United States’ population was involved in agriculture. Spurred by a desire to rebuild the attractiveness of rural life, a conglomeration of academics, government employees, country-dwellers, capitalists, and reformers tried to increase the popularity and efficiency of country living.

Bailey, L.H., The Country Life Movement in the United States. (New York: MacMillan, 1911.

Bowers, William. The Country Life Movement in America, 1900-1920. (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kinnekat Press, 1974.)

Demonstration Farming

The General Education Board’s (GEB) farm demonstration program grew out of Wallace Buttrick’s 1905 observation that “the fundamental problem of the South is the recovery of the fertility of the soil.” Southern farmers, both white and black, the GEB discovered, had no knowledge of modern farming techniques. Because most of these farmers were also illiterate, the GEB saw no value in printing how-to manuals for the farmers. They instead decided to sponsor demonstration agents who toured the south teaching farmers to use modern techniques. While farmers were at first skeptical of changing their agricultural methods, the success of these demonstrations won converts and “modern” farming slowly spread through the rural south. As a result, the GEB found communities with improved farming revenues more willing to build schools and to sponsor educational programs in their regions.

Fosdick, Raymond B. Adventure in Giving: The Story of the General Education Board. (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1962.)

General Education Board

The General Education Board grew out of a movement initiated by both southern white educators and northern philanthropists, aimed at improving the educational system in the South. In 1901 a group of these men commenced a Pullman train tour of the South. Upon their arrival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the members of this tour attended a public meeting, the Fourth Conference for Education in the South. Also present at the meeting was Governor Charles B. Aycock, a white supremacist and ardent advocate of the disenfranchisement of the black vote and universal public education for both whites and blacks. During the conference, the men of education and philanthropists agreed upon the need to establish and execute a regional campaign for universal public schooling. They created the Southern Education Board and the General Education Board, both charged with implementation of this goal. John D. Rockefeller had been one of the distinguished guests on the Pullman tour and was instrumental in the creation of the General Education Board. In 1902, he provided one million dollars for it first endowment and continued to appropriate large sums of financial support in the subsequent years. Members of the General Education Board subscribed to the belief that agricultural and industrial training was the foundation of an educational system for African-Americans. Unsurprisingly, General Samuel C. Armstrong of the Hampton Institute and Booker T. Washington served as the General Education Board’s example for the rest of the southern educational establishment for African- Americans. This philosophy evolved out of the fundamental belief that African-Americans were incapable of acquiring a comparable education to their white counterparts.

Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1930. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.)

Home Makers Clubs

Home Makers Clubs were an outgrowth of the efforts of the General Education Board and the Jeanes Fund to promote industrial training for girls in southern rural, African-American schools. Supervising teachers were instructed to cooperate with local farm-demonstration agents and to create clubs of African-American girls, whom they assumed would be home makers in the future, to plant gardens of vegetables and fruits for winter use. Members in these Home Maker groups also received instruction in sewing, canning and cooking. They frequently put on exhibitions of their goods at local schools and other public facilities.

Davis, Jackson. “Practical Training in Negro Rural Schools.” The Southern Workman (42 December 1913: 657-71.)

Indian Mission School, Amherst, Virginia

The surviving descendents of the Monacan Native American tribe center their tribal life around Bear Mountain, Virginia, which traditionally has been an important spiritual site and burial ground. One plot of land, named after nearby Falling Rock Creek, has a special connection to the education of the tribe’s children. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, Reverend Arthur Gray II, a University of Virginia graduate, opened an Episcopal mission at Falling Rock to offer schooling and religious services to the Monacan families who had remained in the area. Initially, a lone log cabin, seen in several of the photographs, stood as the mission’s only major non-residential building and was used for school lessons, prayer sessions and meetings. The small structure, which was originally only 16′ x 18′, was soon extended in size and reserved mostly for school use by Gray. After Gray left in 1910, Episcopal deaconesses took over the administration of the mission and built new facilities, including a new schoolhouse in 1922. The school offered primarily an elementary-level curriculum and was kept open until the early 1960s when several Monacans successfully petitioned to have their children attend public schools in the wake of desegregation. The white frame church seen in several of the photographs was constructed shortly after the mission was founded, but was burnt to the ground in 1930. It was replaced with a close replica that still stands today.

Houck, Peter W. and Maxham, Mintcy D. Indian Island in Amherst County. (Lynchburg: Warwick House Publishing, 1993.)

Industrial Education

In the early twentieth century, pressure from northern philanthropy groups forced southerners to address, albeit often in a very limited manner, the needs of African-American education. The white community, believing in the limited intellectual capabilities of African-Americans, embraced the teaching methods of the Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes, also known as “industrial training.” The philosophy of industrial training asserted that African Americans only needed to learn basic skills and good work habits in order to fulfill their educational needs and to improve their lives. This teaching method did not prepare African-American students for entry into higher education. Despite its racist undertones, however, many African-Americans used the industrial training system in order to secure better facilities and funding for their schools. Under the mantle of industrial education, they were able to train students in the liberal arts and to further the cause of African-American higher education.

Link, William A. Jackson Davis and the Lost World of Jim Crow Education

Industrial Exhibits

African-American schools often held industrial exhibits to which they invited white county residents and state and private-foundation officials. These events allowed school teachers and administrators to display student-made products and farming methods, in the hope of increasing school funding. State and foundation representatives often awarded prizes for the best products as a way to encourage African-American children to pursue industrial training.

Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.)

Jackson Davis in Africa

Jackson Davis took two trips to Africa during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1935, he traveled as a Carnegie visitor. During that trip, Davis attended the Inter-Territorial Jeanes Conference in Salisbury, Rhodesia. Davis and many of his colleagues believed that the successful Jeanes teaching work in the American South could be replicated throughout Africa. The second trip, in 1944, was sponsored by the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, the British Conference of Missions, and the Phelps-Stokes Fund, and resulted in the publication of Davis’ book, Africa Advancing. With a small team, Davis traveled throughout West Africa and the Belgian Congo to study missionary attempts at teaching Africans modern agricultural techniques and general education. Davis believed that Africa, as an “uncivilized” territory, held great potential for advancement, as long as the Africans were given the “proper” training. Davis remained committed to the African cause for the remainder of this life; at the time of his death he was president of the board of trustees of Booker T. Washington Institute in Liberia, president of the New York State Colonization Society, and a member of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation and of the Advisory Committee on Education in Liberia.

Davis, Jackson, et al., Africa Advancing. (New York: Friendship Press, 1945.)

Jim Crow

“Jim Crow” was a minstrel character first performed by Thomas Dartmouth Rice in 1828. In his show, Rice, a white man, painted his face black and impersonated an African American. This impersonation, intended for white audiences, perpetuated stereotypes of African-American intellectual inferiority and their inability to relate to white society. Over time, “Jim Crow” became an epithet to characterize all African Americans. As such, Jim Crow laws, which were validated by the United States’ ruling in the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson, were laws that mandated the “separate but equal” social separation of blacks and whites.


Named after Dr. Maria Montessori, the first Italian woman to obtain a medical degree, the Montessori method of education, today and in the past, stresses the creation of a supportive learning environment to encourage each child to learn at his or her individual pace. Montessori developed her method after finding that the principles that she applied to working with handicapped and socially deprived childrenĀ  met with equal success in working with all children. As such, proponents of Montessori education believe that by giving a child freedom within a structured environment, the child can develop to his or her fullest, both psychologically and physically.



Patron’s Days

In the early twentieth century, “patron” was the term commonly used to refer to community members, business people, local government officials, and other individuals who contributed to the funding of local schools. Patrons and parents of school children had tremendous influence over the hiring and firing of teachers, the use of public and philanthropic school funds, the locations of schools, and the course of school consolidation. To foster community support for both white and African-American schools, public education and private foundation officials often arranged annual events like Patron’s Days for students’ families and the local community. Specifically, the purpose of these days was to display new facilities and the products or results of new curriculum programs in the hopes of garnering continued community support and funding.

Anderson, James. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988.)

Link, William A. A Hard Country and a Lonely Place: Schooling, Society, and Reform in Rural Virginia, 1870-1920. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.)

Philanthropic Funds

Philanthropic foundations provided financial grants to schools throughout the American south. The administration and distribution of such funds brought men and women from all over the United States into frequent personal contact and promoted enlightened and sympathetic understanding of the South’s educational problems following the Reconstruction period. Often, several philanthropic foundations cooperated to provide more aid across a wider area. For example, the Rosenwald Fund would provide money for county buildings or school bus transportation; the General Education Board would give aid towards procuring modern equipment; the Slater Fund would subsidize a vocational teacher; and the Jeanes Fund would provide a supervisor for remote rural community programs. State agents were responsible for coordinating cooperative programs between foundations.

  • Peabody Fund (1867)
    The Peabody Education Fund was the first multi-million dollar education foundation in America. In 1867, George F. Peabody, a successful investment banker, entrusted large sums of money in to a Board of Trustees to be administrated “for the welfare of the suffering South” through the education of white and black students. He specified that his gift be used “not for the college education of some gentlemen, but for elementary education to children of the common people.” The Peabody Fund employed a general agent in the South who was responsible for determining how the money could best be used. Most important, the fund’s money was used to encourage the establishment of state systems of free schools. In order to further this mission, the fund’s agents also worked to swing public opinion in support of taxation to support schools and urged the formation of state teachers associations and normal schools. Before the fund closed in 1910, it cooperated in the employment of the first state agents in southern African-American schools.
  • Slater Fund (1882)
    John F. Slater of Norwich, Connecticut, sought to repeat the educational benefits to the South that had been gained from the wise administration of the Peabody Fund. In 1882, he committed one million dollars to a Board of Trustees for the “furthering of Negro education,” particularly on the secondary and college levels. As such, the Slater Fund became the first philanthropy in the United States devoted specifically to the education of African-Americans. Grants from the Slater Fund helped to develop private African-American colleges and four-year high schools, stimulated the spread of vocational and industrial training, and helped to originate the idea of county training schools. Slater also set the precedent for public reporting by foundations, instructing his trustees to distribute an annual printed description of their work to the Library of Congress and state libraries.
  • Anna T. Jeanes Foundation (1907)
    In 1907, Anna T. Jeanes’s will appointed Booker T. Washington and Hollis B. Frissell as trustees of an endowment fund worth $1 million for “the purpose of assisting in the Southern United States, Community, Country or Rural Schools, for that great class of Negros, to whom the smaller Rural or Community Schools are alone available…” Miss Jeanes specified that the endowment was to be used solely for “the assistance of Rural, Community, or Country Schools for Southern Negros, and not for the benefit or use of large Institutions, but for the purpose of rudimentary education and to encourage moral influence and social refinement which shall promote peace in the land, and good will among men.” In accordance with conventional thought in the early twentieth century, the trustees believed that teaching practical skills to African-Americans was much more desirable than teaching the traditional liberal arts. As such, the Fund for Rudimentary Schools for Southern Negroes, commonly known as the Jeanes Fund, came to provide money for industrial training throughout the south. Specifically, the Jeanes Fund supported a cadre of industrial teachers who traveled from school to school in the rural South teaching subjects such as sewing, canning, basketry and woodworking.
  • Jeanes Teachers
    In 1908, Jackson Davis sent a letter to to the Board of Trustees of the Jeanes Endowment to request funding for the salaries of two traveling industrial teachers in Henrico County, Virginia. Later that year, Virginia Estelle Randolph became the first official Jeanes teacher. Following Randolph’s example, Jeanes teachers throughout the south traveled to rural schools to help the regular teachers with their duties. They also taught simple industrial skills such as sewing, canning, basketry and woodworking; raised money for numerous building needs, school materials and salary supplements; held meetings; distributed supplies and generally promoted the welfare of the African Americans in the school and in their larger communities. In order to improve the rural, Southern education system, the Jeanes Teacher program promoted schemes for the building or renovating of schools, visited homes in order to enlist help from parents and to increase school attendance, fostered health talks to promote good hygiene and cleanliness, and introduced more effective ways of teaching school subjects.
  • Julius Rosenwald Fund (1917)
    In 1914, Julius Rosenwald announced that he, through the Tuskegee Institute, would give aid toward the building of 100 rural African-American schools in Alabama over a three-year period of time. Rosenwald’s offer to Booker T. Washington came with the condition that the state department of education, local school officials, and good citizens, both white and black, would cooperate in the program. The success of the Tuskegee experiment led Rosenwald to incorporate his fund in 1917. The Rosenwald Fund provided aid for state agents to build modern schools for thousands of rural African-American communities. In all, the fund provided for the building of 5,358 rural African-American schools in fifteen southern states. The Virginia Randolph Fund (1937) In 1936, the Jeanes Teachers established a memorial fund to honor the first Jeanes Teacher, Virginia Randolph of Henrico County, Virginia. Randolph’s commitment to teaching had served as a successful model for the Jeanes Program as a whole. For the fund, which was considered as a supplement to the Jeanes Fund, each Jeanes Teacher was asked to raise $50 from her community. The money was set aside “for the promotion of the ideas and ideals typified by Miss Randolph.”
  • Phelps-Stokes Fund
    The Phelps-Stokes Fund was established in 1909 by the will of Caroline Phelps Stokes, a New York woman with a special interest in African-American education. The fund was committed to providing money to African-American schools in the American South and to the promotion of interracial cooperation. The Phelps-Stokes Fund is best known for its work in connection with Africa. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the fund sent American educators, including Jackson Davis in 1944, to Africa. The purpose of these trips was to help American educators better understand the origins of African Americans and to promote American forms of education to help civilize African natives.

Dillard. James H. et al. Twenty Year Report of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, 1911-1931. New York City: The Phelps-Stokes Fund, 1933.

Wright, Arthur D. The Negro Rural School Fund, Inc. (Anna T. Jeanes Foundation) 1907-1933. Washington, D.C.: Phelps-Stokes Fund, 1933.

Jones, Lance G.E. The Jeanes Teacher in the United States. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937.)

Smith, S. L. Builders of Goodwill. (Nashville: Tennessee Book Company, 1950.)

Rural Life Week

Rural Life Week was an education exhibition held at the Rotunda of the University of Virginia in 1912 (and possibly other years). The records of the Southern Education Board indicate that Jackson Davis presented a display at the 1912 event. The exhibition was held so that public school teachers and members of the Virginia Co-operative Education Association, a branch of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, could learn about successful teaching methods in rural environments.

Douglas (?). Letter to Mrs. B.B. Munford c/o Mrs. Adam Pottle. 26 July 1912. Southern Education Board Records. Series 1.2, Folder 29. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.

State Agents/General Education Board Field Agents

in the first decade of the twentieth century, Dr. Hollis Frissell, principal of the Hampton Institute in Virginia, decided that a special state agent was needed to oversee the African-American schools in the state. Frissell asked the Peabody Education Fund to provide funds to pay the salary and expenses of the special agent as a new, experimental aspect of the Virginia State Department of Education. Jackson Davis, the Superintendent of Henrico County, was the first individual appointed to this post. His success in raising awareness about the needs of African-American schools in Virginia led the General Education Board to sponsor such agents throughout the south. The state agents, along with their assistants, toured their states extensively, inspecting already-established schools and encouraging the construction of new schools. Their ultimate goal was to bring industrial education to all African-American communities. In 1916, the General Education Board appointed Davis as their the general field agent. In this capacity, Davis was responsible for coordinating the policies and activities of state agents throughout the south. His tireless work as general field agent led members of the General Education Board to nickname Davis the “dean of state agents.”

Smith, S.L. Builders of Goodwill. (Nashville: Tennessee Book Company, 1950.)

Stingray Conferences

Stingray Conferences were informal meetings of the leaders of various philanthropic organizations that first took place in 1932 at the Virginia summer home of Dr. Jackson Davis. Davis’ house, on the west shore of the Chesapeake Bay, reportedly was close to the place where Captain John Smith had an encounter with a stingray; thus, the appellation “stingray.” Davis called the conference, an annual event through 1943, so that these leaders could consult with one another regarding the future direction of Southern education. In addition to two two-hour meetings a day on educational issues, those men who attended the conference also spent time swimming, fishing, boating, walking, and eating.

Smith S. L. The Stingray Conferences. (Nashville, TN: 1954).

Records of the General Education Board. 586.1. (Rockefeller Archive Center, Tarrytown, N.Y.)

Southern Progressivism

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American intellectuals developed a renewed faith in human progress. Known as Progressives, these men and women worked to reform society and to intervene, through bureaucratic means, in the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. Progressives fought, amongst other things, for prohibition, public health codes, universal public schooling, woman suffrage, and child labor laws. In the South, the large African-American and rural white population posed the largest hurdles for Progressives. Reformers like Jackson Davis firmly believed that progress could not be made in the South unless reform efforts were undertaken to lift African Americans and rural whites out of their unparalleled poverty. Southern Progressives made great strides in helping African Americans and rural whites to gain access to education, better agricultural methods, and the like. Largely paternalistic, these reformers believed that they knew what was best for the less fortunate classes, and often did not recognize that their work failed to remedy the deep structural problems in southern society. In addition, Southern Progressives, including Jackson Davis, did not challenge the South’s “separate but equal” racial policy and therefore not challenge the deep-seated racism held throughout the South at this time.

Link, William A. The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880-1930. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.)

Teacher Training Schools

In the first decade of the twentieth century, northern philanthropists discovered the need for better trained African-American teachers for one-room schools throughout the rural south. In 1913, James Hardy Dillard, the head of the Slater Fund, decided that the establishment of county training schools would best solve this problem. Schools dedicated to training teachers soon spread throughout the South. Many training schools provided potential African-American teachers with only an eighth grade education. Additionally, not all of these schools were dedicated to training teachers and instead only taught an industrial curriculum.

Fosdick, Raymond B. Adventure in Giving: The Story of the General Education Board. (New York: Harper and Row, 1962.)

Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute

The Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute was founded in Petersburg, Virginia in 1882. The school’s purpose was to train African-Americans from throughout Virginia to teach in the state’s African-American schools. In 1902, the Virginia state legislature ended the school’s collegiate affiliation. They decided, in other words, that the state did not need to support a liberal arts college for African Americans. Instead, the legislators mandated that the school focus exclusively on industrial training for African Americans. The men who attended the school were required to study agriculture for at least one year and the women had to take courses in gardening, cooking, sewing, handicraft, and housekeeping. In 1923, the school regained it collegiate status and in 1930 it was renamed the Virginia State College for Negroes. Today, the school is named Virginia State University.

Some Facts Concerning Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, Petersburg, Virginia. (Ettrick, Va.? : Virginia Normal, 1917.)