Lincoln High School
Tallahassee, Florida

“Lincoln School was conceived as a unified program, elementary through high school. The curriculum
was connected, and the programs merged beautifully into an integrated academic program.”

Anne Floyd Denefield

The Secondary School Study Web Exhibition
by Craig Kridel, Curator


In 1940, Lincoln High School was invited to participate in the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools for Negroes’ Secondary School Study. Selected and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, sixteen of the most distinguished black high schools in the United States participated in an experimental program to reexamine administrative, curricular, and instructional practices. The University of South Carolina’s Museum of Education is pleased to feature Lincoln High School and its participation in the study.



“Lincoln High School, during the 1940s and early 1950s, was a safe haven for young black girls and boys, a haven where we could expand our minds and imaginations, a haven that served as a laboratory where caring and nurturing teachers guided us through our formative years.”
Willie Deas

Willie Deas


W. A. Robinson

Letter of Invitation to Participate in the Study

January 23, 1940
We would like to include the most promising high schools in the Region. For instance, the school should have as principal one of the most promising principals in the state from the standpoint of his training, energy, capability and general alertness to educational progress. The staff should have good fundamental training and an intellectual approach to their work with materials, with boys and girls, and with community problems. We should select in each state the school that has already made the most intelligent approach from each of these angles, that is, is already carrying on a successful program.

Sincerely yours,
W. A. Robinson, Director
Secondary School Study
Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA

While the Association sought to achieve accreditation for its member schools and to make strides for equitable support—separate AND equal—for black education, some educators believed teachers were not involved in progressive education’s “stream of educational ideas” and, thus, were placing too much emphasis on traditional instructional practices. For this reason, the Rockefeller Foundation invited distinguished schools to help define promising practices and to serve as a laboratory for determining goals for black youth.
With oral history interviews conducted in May 2013 with


Lucille C. Alexander
Lorraine Footman Barnes
Hazel M. Brown
Lucille Brown

Augustus Colson
Willie Deas
Anne Floyd Denefield
Irene Thompson Perry



Charles Rollins
Lessie Sanford
W. Mack Rush
Elizabeth Dawson


With special thanks to W. Mack Rush, curator for The Lincoln Room at the Lincoln Neighborhood Service Center, Ms. Patti Wallace of the Lincoln Neighborhood Service Center, and Elizabeth Dawson, curator of the Meek-Eaton Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum at Florida A&M University for providing important source materials for this exhibition.


Irene Thompson Perry

“Lincoln helped me to decide on my career; I’ve been a teacher for 37 years. The Lincoln teachers cared and taught me in a way so that I would seek to help and guide young people. They believed in the power of an educational community.”

Irene Thompson Perry
The Museum of Education’s Web Exhibitions center primarily on the academic life of individual schools during the 1940s and early 1950s, the focus of the Secondary School Study. Our vignettes serve not to lessen the accomplishments and accolades from prior or subsequent decades nor do they diminish the significance of the social and athletic dimensions of school life. Instead, the Museum presents web exhibitions of the Secondary School Study schools as a way to feature the experimental efforts of progressive educators during the 1940s. Since these vignettes were not prepared to serve as school histories, we encourage alumni and historians to prepare their own comprehensive school accounts, histories, and memoirs of these important educational institutions.  
The Museum of Education’s Web Exhibitions have been prepared for a general audience and have not used professional terminology from the field of education. Our accounts are intentionally free of detailed bibliographic citations. The curator is currently writing a scholarly account of this project that follows accepted bibliographic practices.

Further, these exhibitions are conceived within a tradition of progressive education where a fruitful experience raises as many questions as it answers. Thus, the information on the various sites has been crafted intentionally to be suggestive—to allow important questions "to float" through the exhibitions rather than to be answered with a false sense of certainty. These sites are works-in-progress and represent an "educational research charrette" as additional historical material is discovered and fresh memories, recollections, and insights come forth by participants and researchers.


an institutional member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience