Scribner High School

Before the Civil War, African Americans had limited educational opportunities. White children had access to tutors, private academies, and, in some areas, public schools. By contrast, black children, whether enslaved or free, rarely received formal schooling. In 1869, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation requiring separate schools for African Americans. The law compelled municipalities to provide for school buildings and basic schooling for African Americans. Not until 1880, however, did New Albany establish a high school for black students. In that year, two black boys, “Mitchem and Sparks,” sought to enroll in New Albany’s female high school. The school board responded by devoting New Albany Boys High School to African American education and consolidating the male and female high schools. In 1887, the board changed the name of the former boys high school to “Scribner High School for Negroes.” It served as a pillar of African American education in New Albany for decades.

Scribner High School occupied a two-story frame building that had been erected in 1853 as a public school. It stood at the corner of West First and Spring streets. During the Civil War, the Union Army used the building as a hospital. Classes resumed again late in 1864.

In 1906, the school board decided to replace the aging building with a new “modern” structure. S. Day & Sons erected a handsome, three-story red brick building with Neoclassical accents. Scribner High School continued offering high-quality instruction for African Americans in later years. Thousands graduated from Scribner during its more than seven decades of operation.

In 1949, Indiana mandated integration of public schools. Three years later, local officials closed Scribner and leased the building for commercial use. It was demolished in 1959 to make way for the City-County Building. Scribner is today revered for its role in educating generations of African Americans during the era of racial segregation. A historical marker erected in 1997 honors the institution and its legacy.

Images

First Scribner High School Building

First Scribner High School Building

The first building used as the African American high school had been built as a public school in 1853. Like other schools in New Albany, it served as a Union Hospital during the Civil War. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection View File Details Page

High School, Spring and Bank streets

High School, Spring and Bank streets

Before 1880, New Albany high schools were segregated by gender. When the New Albany School board created an African American high school, it consolidated the white girls and boys schools in this building on the corner of Spring and Bank streets. | Source: Courtesy New Albany-Floyd County Public Library View File Details Page

Postcard view of Scribner High School

Postcard view of Scribner High School

The New Albany School Board erected a new building for Scribner High School in 1906. Built by the firm of S. Day and Sons, the building stood until 1959, when officials demolished it to make way for the City-County Building. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections | Creator: postcard View File Details Page

New Albany High School

New Albany High School

The high school building at Spring and Bank streets was demolished in 1901-02. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd Public Library Digital Collection | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections View File Details Page

Scribner High School of 1897

Scribner High School of 1897

Scribner High School Faculty, shown below motto Esse Quam Videri (to be rather than to seem) Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections View File Details Page

Scribner High School (2nd building), ca 1915

Scribner High School (2nd building), ca 1915

Scribner High School shown ca. 1915. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd Public Library Digital Collections | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections View File Details Page

Students at Scribner High School, 1914.

Students at Scribner High School, 1914.

Mrs. Birdie classroom photo from Scribner High School, 1914. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd Public Library Digital Collections | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection View File Details Page

Scribner High School students

Scribner High School students

Students at Scribner High School, 1925. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection | Source: Courtesy New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collection View File Details Page

The Scribner Graduating Class of 1928

The Scribner Graduating Class of 1928

Students of Scribner High School shown gathered for a graduation photo. African Americans took great pride in educational achievement. Most saw education as a path to social and economic equality. Image courtesy of New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections | Source: New Albany-Floyd County Public Library Digital Collections View File Details Page

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

This historical marker indicates the original location of Scribner High School. The text reads, "In 1880, an 1822 school building on this site became Scribner High School for African-American students, under an 1869 Indiana law mandating public education for African-American children and allowing segregated schools. Modern facility completed and state commissioned 1907. Closed 1952 after 1949 state desegregation law." Image courtesy of Daniel Vivian. | Creator: Daniel Vivian View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Alex Covington, Jacob Burress, Trish Nohalty, and Tommy Skaggs, “Scribner High School,” Discover Indiana, accessed July 28, 2017, http://indyhist.iupui.edu/items/show/130.
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