HBCU Timeline: 1871 to 1899

As the United States continued to rebuild after the Civil War, the Freedmen's Bureau and Freedmen's Aid Society began providing educational resources to African-Americans. 

These institutions of higher learning would train African-American men and women to become teachers, doctors, preachers and skilled tradesman. 

1871: Alcorn State University is founded in Lorman, Miss. The school is named in honor of James L. Alcorn.


1872: The AME Church establishes Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas.

1873: The Branch Normal College is founded in Pine Bluff, Ark. Today, it is the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

The United Methodist Church opened Bennett Seminary in Greensboro, NC. Today, it is known as Bennett College.

Wiley College is also opened with funds provided by the United Methodist Church. Named for Isaac William Wiley, the school is home to the Wiley Forensic Society, a debate team that included future Civil Rights leader James Farmer Jr. 

1875: Alabama A & M University is opened in Huntsville, Ala as the Colored Normal School at Huntsville.

The United Presbyterian Church of North America established Knoxville College.

1876: Meharry Medical College opens in Nashville. Funded by the United Methodist Church, the school was established as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College.

Alta Vista A & M College for Colored Youth opens in Prairie View, Texas.

Today it is known as Prairie View A & M University.

Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. opens as Tuscaloosa Institute. Founded by the Presbyterian Church, the school was the brainchild of Reverend Dr. Charles Allen Stillman who served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa.

1877: Jackson State University is founded as Natchez Seminary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society.

Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. Is founded by the United Methodist Church as Walden Seminary.

1878: The Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School opens in Selma, Ala. Today, it is known as Selma University.

1879: The American Baptist Churches opens Florida Baptist Institute in Live Oak. The school currently operates as Florida Memorial University.

Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC opens as Zion Wesley Institute.

1880: Southern University and A & M College is established by P.B.S. Pinchback, T. Allain and Henry Demas.

1881: Huston-Tillotson University is established as Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute in Austin.

Spelman College is established by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Founded as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, its alumni includes Reverend Bernice King, the daughter of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Tuskegee University is established as Tuskegee Institute by Booker T. Washington. It is considered a national historic site.

1882: Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. is founded as the Colored Methodist Episcopal High School.

Paine Institute opens its doors in Augusta, Ga. Today, the school operates as Paine College.

Virginia State University is founded as Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute at Petersburg.


1884: Arkansas Baptist College is founded as Minister’s Institute.

1886: The State Normal School for Colored Persons opens its doors in Frankfort, Kentucky. The school has been renamed Kentucky State University.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is founded as the Delaware Conference Academy.

The AME Church provides funding to open Bethel University. Today, the school is known as Shorter College and is located in Little Rock, Ark.

Lynchburg Baptist Seminary opens its doors to train African-American men and women. Today, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in Lynchburg, Va. and is known as Virginia University of Lynchburg.

1887: Central State University opens in Wilberforce, Ohio.

The State Normal College for Colored Students opens in Tallahassee, Fl. The school is currently in operation as Florida A & M University.

1890: Stowe Teachers College was established in St. Louis for African-Americans. The school merged with St. Louis Normal School in 1954 to become Harris Stowe State University.

Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth opens in Savannah, Ga. Today the school has been renamed Savannah State University. 

1891: Delaware State University opens its doors as The State College for Colored Students.

Elizabeth City State University is founded in Elizabeth City, NC.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University opens its doors as the Agricultural & Mechanical College for the Colored Race.

West Virginia State University is established in Institute, W.V. as the West Virginia Colored Institute. 

1892: Winston-Salem State University opens as Slater Industrial and State Normal School.

1894: The AME Zion Church opens Clinton Institute in Rock Hill, SC. Today it is Clinton Junior College.

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church sponsors the opening of Texas College.

1895: Bluefield State College opens as the Bluefield Colored Institute.

Fort Valley State University is established as Fort Valley High and Industrial School.

1896: The Seventh Day Adventist Church opens the Oakwood Industrial School. Located in Huntsville, Ala., the school is known today as Oakwood University.

The Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina is founded in Orangeburg, SC. Today it is known as South Carolina State University. 

1897: Langston University is founded in Oklahoma as the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University.

 The Denmark Industrial School is opened by the Episcopal Church. Today, the school is still based out of Denmark, SC and is known as Vorhees College.

1898: The Episcopal Church provides funding for the St. Philip’s Sewing Class for Girls in San Antonio, Texas. Today it is known as St. Philip’s College.