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Documents Relating to Public Education in New Hanover County

Identifier: SC-MS-135
This collection consists of original documents, letters, financial records and printed material dealing with the establishment of free public schools in Wilmington, North Carolina after the Civil War. The correspondence details the financial support for school construction, teacher recruitment and administration provided by the Massachusetts Soldiers Memorial Society, Mary Hemenway, Amy Bradley and the American Unitarian Association for what came to be known as Wilmington School District #2. The focus of the materials in the collection is in Wilmington, North Carolina during the 1860s to the 1900s. While the focus of the collection provides financial and legal details regarding school construction for white children, there is some information on on Williston and Peabody Colored Schools for African American children. Material types include correspondence, receipts, deeds, photographs, reports and contracts.


  • 1865-1924

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


0.625 Linear Feet

2.00 boxes (This collection contains two document boxes.)

Historical Note

The Massachusetts Soldiers Memorial Society believed that while schools were being established for the newly emancipated freedmen by the Freedmen's Bureau, the poor white children of the former Confederate states were in desperate need of free schooling. According to a committee of Wilmington Citizens, the "children are nearly all of them in such circumstances as deprive them entirely of school privileges, being unable to attend pay schools, and we had no other. They are poor white children, whose parents in many cases, are ignorant, with little appreciation of the benefits of education." [Committee of Wilmington to Miss Bradley, 18 May 1869] Hemenway provided much of the financial backing for school construction, while Bradley both taught and later administered the schools. When North Carolina established public schools, the "Bradley" schools became part of the public school system. The collection demonstrates that Amy Bradley was the lynch pin of the entire system, and that she was both respected and beloved by the people of Wilmington.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Dr. William Wagoner, Chancellor Emeritus, in connection with his inauguration as the first Chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. An addition of photocopies of letters from the Unitarian Universalist Association and Harvard Divinity School Archives were later purchased by Helen Hagan, Librarian, in 1969.
Documents Relating to Public Education in New Hanover County
Patricia B. McGee and Samantha Perkins
2017 May 4
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017 May 02: Collection reprocessed by Samantha Perkins in April, 2017.

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository