East Tennessee State University Has Digitized a Collection of Black History in Appalachia

The Langston Heritage Group Collection was donated to the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City more than two decades ago. The collection includes a wealth of historical information about Black churches, schools, civic clubs, and organizations throughout Washington County from the end of the Civil War to the present. Included in the collection is a 47-minute recording that features an interview with the 1964 class of Langston High School, a now-closed institution that served Johnson City’s African American students beginning in the 1890s. Many of the items in the collections are photographs and documents from the Thankful Baptist Church.

Now a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities has allowed for the collection to be digitized and made available online for researchers and the general public. The collection may be viewed here.

“The physical collection has been accessed in the Archives’ reading room by dozens of researchers who have utilized the materials for scholarly and creative projects,” said Jeremy A. Smith, Archives of Appalachia director. “But digitizing and making this collection available online will push it out to a global audience, providing unprecedented access to this valuable resource while helping to draw attention to an essential but underrepresented part of Johnson City’s history.”

Class of 1935 Langston High School


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