Web Quest: Virginia Education and the World

Industrial Expositions and African American Education

posterexhibit 1exhibit 2





The Task

Through these activities, you will learn about the “Industrial Training”method of education, who it was for, and what types of skills were learned through this form of education. You will also discover, through reading newspaper articles, how the products of this type of education were presented to the public, and the response they received.



  • You will first need to read a short paragraph that describes the industrial training method.
  • You will need to read articles that describe the conditions and activities surrounding the Industrial Expositions being held in many cities all over the country.


The Process

Step 1

Before beginning your exploration into the world of Industrial Training Expositions, it is important that you read a brief paragraph which explains what the Industrial training method is, who it involves and when this training took place.

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.

Step 2

After reading the brief description about the Industrial training Method, choose two of the articles provided, click on the picture of the article to read them, and then answer the following questions.


  • After reading the article, what would you compare these expositions to in today’s world?
  • In the last paragraph in the third column, Giles Jackson states: “It will surprise the white people”. What feeling do you get after reading this article about how people feel about these expositions and the African-American advancement?
  • How do you think the white people felt about these expositions?
  • How do you think African-American people felt about these expositions?
  • Why do you think these expositions were such a big deal?
  • From this article, do you think people were excited about these expositions?



  • Do you feel this article is racist in any way towards African-American people?
  • In what ways does this article portray the attitudes of white people towards black people and their advancements?
  • Why do you feel that a midway, carnival -like atmosphere was part of the expositions?
  • Why do you think a separate day was set aside for white people?
  • Who do you think was most likely to attend these expositions?



  • In this article, what does the author claim the main purpose of the exposition was to be for white people?
  • What do you think the intent of the exposition was for African-American people?




  • Through this article, what is evident about the beliefs of what the expositions will do for African Americans.
  • What is the significance of these expositions for African-American people?



Extension Activities

  • Make a poster advertising an Industrial exposition.
  • Organize your own exposition where you can present to classmates, teachers, and parents your skills and talents.