University of Arkansas’ New Historical Digital Archive Tells the Story of an Early HBCU

The University of Arkansas has debuted a new online archive of materials relating to Southland College in Phillips County, Arkansas. The school, established in 1864, was the first institution of higher learning for African Americans in the United States founded west of the Mississippi River.

Original funding for the school was provided by Quakers from Indiana. Funding and labor for the first buildings of the college were provided by veterans of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. After a decade, the school’s enrollment reached 200. Southland College closed in 1925 due to financial difficulties. Hundreds of alumni graduated with teaching degrees from the college.

The new online exhibit includes photographs and scanned images of letters, forms, newspaper articles, course catalogs, a commencement program and a diploma.

The online archive entitled, “Lives Transformed: the People of Southland College,” may be accessed here.

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