Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Collections >> The Church in the Southern Black Community >> Document Menu >> Summary

M. F. Armstrong (Mary Frances), d. 1903, Helen W. Ludlow (Helen Wilhelmina), d. 1924, and Thomas P. Fenner
Hampton and Its Students. By Two of Its Teachers, Mrs. M. F. Armstrong and Helen W. Ludlow. With Fifty Cabin and Plantation Songs, Arranged by Thomas P. Fenner
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1874.

Summary

Opened in 1868 to serve the large population of freedmen living in the shadow of Fortress Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) was one of the early success stories in the struggle to educate former slaves in the South. Armstrong attributes Hampton's success to "the determined spirit of students and teachers, the steady liberality of northern friends, and the generosity of Virginia" (26) . Armstrong, Ludlow, and Fenner seek to convey in this book the story of Hampton and its students to the public, and to justify the ideals upon which the school was founded.

Armstrong and Ludlow document the activities of Hampton and its students. Although a major interest of Hampton was training its students to run its farm, printing office, carpenter-shop, blacksmith-shop, shoe-shop and paint-shop, from the very beginning, according to Armstrong, the long term goal of Hampton's efforts was not merely to prepare its students for manual labor but to educate them and thus improve them as citizens. Ludlow's contribution to the story of Hampton is a series of testimonies, portraits, speeches, student journal entries, and letters that attempt to alter the public's general perception of former slaves and to document the superior qualities of the students enrolled at Hampton.

Of special interest are Fenner's arrangements of fifty spirituals that he collected from Hampton's student body. These arrangements are presented in an effort to preserve what he calls "this wonderful music of bondage" for posterity.

Brent Kinser

Document menu