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Documents Relating to Public Education in New Hanover County

Identifier: SC-MS-135

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1865-1924

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

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

Historical Note

During Presidential Reconstruction, several northern missionary societies opened schools for blacks in the South immediately following the Civil War. Some northern missionary societies also identified a need for free schools for poor white children. In 1867, Amy Bradley, working as a missionary for the Unitarian Association and The Massachusetts Soldiers Memorial Society, arrived in Wilmington to establish free schools for white children. Mary 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 Amy Bradley’s significant involvement in the creation of the public school system in Wilmington.


0.42 Linear Feet (Contains 1 document box)

Language of Materials


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.

Digital Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and/or are born-digital. These items are identified by a black icon beside the item title when browsing via the collection organization hierarchy (to the right in desktop view; on the bottom in mobile view).

To view or access all of the digitized and/or born-digital materials in the collection directly, please select "View Digital Material" in the blue header above, just below the collection title.

Documents Relating to Public Education in New Hanover County
Special Collections Staff
2021 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository