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Hampton’s Black and Indian Students Remaking Culture in the Face of Trauma (1870-1920)

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Smelter, Cara Angela. “‘Not as they were before and never can be’: Hampton’s Black and Indian Students Remaking Culture in the Face of Trauma (1870-1920).” (Under the direction of Dr. Blair Lynne Kelley.)

‘Not as they were before and never can be’: Hampton’s Black and Indian Students Remaking Culture in the Face of Trauma (1870-1920) examines black and Indian student identity at Hampton Institute, a school established amidst the chaos of Reconstruction in the South and Indian Removal in the West. Founded in 1868 by the American Missionary Association, Hampton began as a school for freedmen and women and later, in 1877, opened its doors to Indian students for an experimental Indian program. Hampton functioned as a normal school with an industrial education curriculum, commonly found in missionary schools in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it created a model for education particularly unique to the school. First principal and co-founder Samuel Chapman Armstrong developed the Hampton model, often referred to as “Education for Life.” He envisioned a program to train “the head, the hand and the heart.” Students received teachings in academics, manual training, and Christian education in hopes they would take what they learned and act as teachers and leaders of accommodationism. ‘Not as they were before and never can be’ utilizes the folklore collected by students, student letters, and student illustrations found in newspapers, and photography produced at Hampton to find signs of students’ attempts to retain, incorporate, and remake their identity despite the administrations’ desires to dilute African American and Indian identity and instill racial accommodationism.

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