A. S. Staley High School
Americus, GA

The Secondary School Study Web Exhibition
by Craig Kridel, Curator


In 1940, A. S. Staley 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 Staley High School and its participation in the study.


“When I arrived at Staley High School, I began feeling different, feeling independent. I was learning more than mere content; I was being taught how to treat myself and others with respect and dignity.”
Robert Hollis


William 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 September 2007 and spring 2011.

Christine B. Abroms
Dorothy Apple
Harriet Broughton
Beulah M. Carter


Gladys B. Clark
Joseph Crumbley, Sr.
Andrew Daniel
Theotis Ray Daniels


Tiny M. Seay Davis
Morris Dozier, Sr.
Vernelle Harris Hall
Minnie D. Haynes



Robert Hollis
Ruby Jean Howard
Bessie M. Jones
Freddie Jones


La Daisy Sharpe King
Charles Mathis
Dorothy A. Mills
Ernestine V. Moore

Charles E. Moss
Addie Rose Owens
N. Carolyn Thompson
Gradene Watson


Alpha H. Westbrook
Leroy Williams
and with special thanks to
Anne M. Isbell and George Glover


and with great appreciation for the assistance of Eloise R. Paschal and Morris Dozier, Sr. who provided important historical documents that were into this exhibition.


Alpha Hines Westbrook
“Americus was highly segregated and any term that implied the idea of ‘progress’ was dangerous. So we did not use the term ‘progressive education.’ We did not have to—we lived it every day. We provided education for the mind, the body, and the soul and attended to the needs of the whole child—personal interests but also community needs.”
Alpha Hines Westbrook

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.


These 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 questionable 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 other researchers.



an institutional member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience