History Lives On: Preserving Alabama's Rosenwald Schools

October 2, 2023 - June 1, 2024
Second Floor Gallery

In the early twentieth century, Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck & Co., used his extensive financial resources to transform the landscape of public education in the rural, segregated South. Inspired by Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) President Booker T. Washington’s efforts to expand Black education, Rosenwald collaborated with Washington to pilot a community-matched grant program to fund the construction of six schools in central Alabama. The success of the program led Rosenwald to establish the Rosenwald Fund. Between 1917 and 1932, nearly 5,000 new schools were built in fifteen southern states, including more than 400 in Alabama.

The exhibit is the culmination of an ongoing Auburn University research project entitled Realizing Rosenwald. Visitors will learn not only about the individuals who started the Rosenwald Schools and the buildings themselves, but also about local communities across Alabama who worked to raise funds and to build and sustain these schools over generations.

The exhibit will also explore today’s efforts by community members and alumni to preserve Alabama’s remaining historic Rosenwald buildings and the rich legacies they represent. History Lives On: Preserving Alabama's Rosenwald Schools was created by Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design & Construction in partnership with the ADAH.

Exhibit Press Release