Jackson Davis and the Lost World of Jim Crow Education

By the University of Virginia

Jackson Davis captures the challenging conditions facing black schools, teachers, and students in the first half of the twentieth century. 

In 1910, Davis was appointed as the first State Agent for Negro Rural Schools for the Virginia State Department of Education. He served as an educational field agent until 1929, during which time he documented his work by taking almost 6,000 photographs of students, teachers, and schools of the Southeastern United States, though this collection focuses solely on his work in Virginia.

This work provides "one of the most complete extant collections documenting the lost world of Jim Crow education," an education that existed according to Link on a unique triangular relationship between Southern whites, northern philanthropists, and African Americans.

The book contains an excellent essay on Davis's work by William A. Link, the Lucy Spinks Keker Excellence Professor and Head of History Department University of North Carolina Greensboro. Professor Link introduces us to Davis, "industrial education," and the triangular relationship between southern whites, African Americans, and northern philanthropists.

This is an interesting read. The photographs reveal the squalid conditions and the disparity between the education of whites and blacks in the Jim Crow South.