EWP Attachment


EWP Attachment
Virginia, US
Is Version Of
Is Part Of
Deeds Schools and Construction
Date Created
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Digitized by: Edwin Washington Project
Loudoun County Public Schools
extracted text
Assuming we are as successful in our efforts as I believe we will be, the head of the
NAACP in Loudoun, Phillip Thompson, recommended we also set up similar study
groups in other counties in Virginia and the South, not only to truthfully explain what
happened in the past; but also to use the research to argue against various forms of
segregation abroad.
The project is named after a teenager who lived in Leesburg just after the Civil War and
who wanted an education. He worked in a bar and was allowed to go to school only in
between errands. What we learned from Quaker records is that he not only attended
but also wrote about the importance of education. Keep in mind that after the war most
African-Americans didn’t know how to read or write. Children went to class during the
day and their parents attended at night in order to use literacy to avoid being cheated
and to prosper. This was also the time of Jim Crow. Most monuments are to soldiers.
Our project is a monument to all of the Edwin Washington’s that existed, their sisters
and parents and all of the people who helped African-Americans to obtain a proper
Using interviews and records from 1846 to 1969 owned by LCPS which were lost for
decades, as well as records in private holdings and the Circuit Court of Loudoun
County, we are telling a story of great educational bravery. For example, we have
uncovered hand written petitions by parents demanding improvements in schooling, and
asking for toilets, repairs, better transportation and fair wages. All of those are being
transcribed and will be published in a roll of honor. Our study is called Dirt Don’t Burn
after a letter we found asking for wood to heat a school. Our plan is compare white and
African-American education and show who attended school, where the buildings were
located, who instructed the children and discuss the curriculum and how schools were
built and maintained. We are also developing an on-line map that will show the routes
children took to school (white and African-American) and compare the quality of the
All of the labor is done by volunteers with great credentials. We have a Professor of
English, a PhD candidate in Education, an expert in Management, a cartographer
formerly of the Bureau of Land Management, and an expert in digital preservation
formerly of Oatlands Plantation and the Smithsonian, as well as the Chairman of the
Board of Oatlands Plantation. I am a retired U.S. diplomat and specialist in disaster
management and library/information management. We also have ordinary citizens from
Loudoun helping with transcriptions. What we need is funding for equipment and
software to scan and catalog thousands of records so that they can be seen by the
public. In addition, we need to buy archival boxes and folders to protect the documents
and maps. There is also the website which must be maintained, and a significant
amount of travel to private holdings with documents to fill in informational gaps. If you
could help us with those costs, we would be most grateful.
The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

Attached is a catalog of immediate needs for which we need help, as well as two
newspaper articles on the project, which also describe our support from the Virginia
House of Delegates and Senate.
If you would like to assist, even only for a portion, please send a tax-deductible check
The Edwin Washington Project
26128 Talamore Drive, South Riding, Va. 20152

The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

Physical Preservation: Book and Document Cases and Boxes $1800
Cases for Books:

Samples of Books and Papers to be

Cases for Documents and Maps:

Digital Preservation Supporting Research and Digital Backup

Collection Management Software

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 laptop x Two.
Each is $600. Used for remote
research and GIS Mapping project.

Donations are made to
We are cataloging thousands of
The Edwin Washington Project,
records, all of which are also being
26128 Talamore Drive,
scanned. This project will enable the
The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.
South Riding, Va. 20152
public easy access over the internet.


Expo Spotlights
Loudoun’s Black
2017-02-27 2017-02-28
Danielle Nadler, Loudoun

During the final weekend of Black History Month, many gathered at an events center in Sterling to
learn about and reflect on the black men and women who are part of Loudoun County’s story.
The Black History Month Expo, held Saturday at the Cascade Overlook Event Center, was organized
by the Loudoun Freedom Center. The event featured breakout sessions that gave attendees a chance
to hear and discuss a variety of topics—from a presentation on the county’s slave communities to a
discussion on how to “bridge the STEM gap in African-American education.”
Kevin D. Grigsby, author of “From Loudoun To Glory” and “Howardsville: The Journey of an
African-American Community in Loudoun County, Virginia,” said not many people know that more
than 300 African American men from Loudoun County fought in the Civil War. When he learned
that in his research, he said, “That was really moving to me. That’s a story in itself.”
Local historian Larry Roeder spoke about his efforts to preserve historic documents that tell
the stories of Loudoun’s early black citizens. He showed the audience photos of several
petitions addressed to county or school officials that were signed by black residents. “They
wrote these petitions to ask for toilets, teachers, roads. … Sometimes they got it. Sometimes
they did not,” he said.
Roeder is creating what he called “a role of honor” that includes the names of everyone who
signed the petitions, which will be safely stored in acid-free, chemical-free boxes. “Because we
believe this is a national treasure,” he said.
Speakers also included Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10); Leesburg Town Council member Ron
Campbell; Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg); Sheila Coates, of Black Women United for
Action; Loudoun County Historic Preservation Planner Heidi Siebentritt; Donna Bohanon, of the
Friends of Thomas Balch Library’s Black History Committee; Northern Virginia Community
College STEM Coordinator Tosin Adetoro; and Eric Larson, historic records manager in the
Loudoun County Circuit Court, among others.
Learn more about the Loudoun Freedom Center at loudounfreedomfoundation.com.
[email protected]
The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

Once Lost, Now Found: Volunteers Discover and
Preserve Forgotten Black Student Records
2016-04-282016-04-29 Danielle NadlerLoudoun Now

“It was a typical day’s work.” That’s how Sue Hall and others in the Loudoun school system’s
Student Records Department describe the morning two years ago when they walked into the Union
Street School in Leesburg to take a look around.
The building, which once served as an all-black school, had been all but abandoned. But they got a
tip that there may—just may—be student records in there worth saving.
Hall, Donna Kroiz and others noticed a pile of a dozen dusty boxes stashed under a staircase. They
pulled out a couple and lifted the lids.
Under a thick layer of dust, spider webs and even rat droppings, sat what local history experts are
calling “a treasure trove” almost lost. Stacked in worn cartons were students’ classroom assignments
and grades, teachers’ evaluations, correspondence between superintendents and school boards, and
several letters from Loudoun’s black community petitioning for equal education, among other
significant records.
“We couldn’t quite believe it,” said Hall, the school system’s record archivist. “We thought, these
should be saved.”
Now a team of volunteers, led by Larry Roeder, chair for research on the Friends of Thomas Balch
Library’s Black History Committee, have launched a year-long project to catalogue and preserve the
once-lost documents that tell the story of Loudoun County schools between the Civil War and the
end of racial segregation.
They’re calling the effort The Edwin Washington Project, named after a black teen who, between
jobs, attended school in Leesburg in the 1860s.

The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

Their focus is to get a better understanding of what school was like for black students specifically
during the 125 years the county’s public schools were separated by race.
“Their story is in these records, that sat untouched
for 50 years,” Roeder said. “We want to document
what schools they attended, what they studied,
who taught them. That’s never been done before.”
Discovering Untold Stories
Two to three days a week, Roeder and his
assistant, Tony Arciero, put on dust respirator
masks, roll up their sleeves and get to work.
On those days, they take over the gymnasium at
the Round Hill Center; once the town’s
elementary school, it now houses Loudoun
County student records. They carefully thumb
through letters, grade books and other reports, some dating back to the 1840s, as they decide how
best to organize the material.
Figure 1Larry Roeder with the boxes of student records from
the segregation era.

Each day, they uncover a new part of Loudoun’s history, Roeder said. Much of it is the part that is
little talked about. The county was one of the last jurisdictions in the nation to desegregate its
schools. It took intervention from U.S. courts to convince Loudoun leaders to integrate schools in
1969, 15 years after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that segregation was unconstitutional.
A stack of now-worn, dried-out petitions from the black community to the superintendent and School
Board illustrate just how inequitable some of the school conditions were. They asked for more
classroom space, for repairs to toilets that had been broken for months, for a sanitary drinking
system—students in black schools took turns scooping water from a bucket—as well as more school
One fragile sheet of paper is, most likely, the very first petition the black community submitted to
Superintendent Oscar Emerick and the school board requesting “a suitable, up-to-date high school …
for the benefit of the colored children of our said County.” Seventy-two people signed it.
In another box, Roeder found a letter from those same individuals to Emerick in 1941 inviting the
superintendent to speak at the opening celebration of the brand new Douglass School.
“You see the slow progress,” Roeder said. “I think Martin Luther King would have been proud of
them (Loudoun’s black community) because of their approach. It was non-violent, and they used
their education to improve the system.”
Letters from longtime superintendent Emerick show the educators’ inner struggle with splitting black
and white students and teachers. He led the school system through some of its most transformative
years, from 1917 to 1957.

The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

(Photo by Douglas
Graham/Loudoun Now)

In the early 1940s, he told the
Board of Supervisors and
School Board that they should
seriously consider integrating
the schools before the federal
government forced them to. In
one letter to the school board,
Emerick said the school
system had done pretty well
for white students but not so
well for black students. He
wrote, “That is prejudice.”
“You can see this clear build
up to Brown vs. Board of Education within these documents,” Arciero said. “It was happening right
Preserving History
The small team of individuals who found the records and are now working to preserve them have
gotten statewide attention.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution in March that praised Kroiz, Hall, Roeder and others for
their work to save the material. Del. John Bell (D-87), who sponsored the bill, said this week, “It’s a
wonderful thing what they did. Frankly, we came close to losing a very valuable piece of history.”
The resolution includes language meant to protect the records from destruction. “Now, they can’t be
ruined,” Roeder said with a smile.
Roeder works as the data manager at the Library Information of Science Department at the Catholic
University of America and is adapting what he’s learned in organizing the university’s massive
amounts of records to this project.
He and Arciero, with the help of volunteers from the school system and other history buffs, are
digitizing the records and organizing them into an online database at
loudounschoolproject.wordpress.com that the public can easily navigate. They are also working on a
book that summarizes what they found.
The records are property of Loudoun County Public Schools and, initially, will be housed in archival
boxes at the Round Hill Center. Eventually, Roeder would like to see them moved to the Thomas
Balch Library in Leesburg where the public can more easily access them.

The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.

(Photo by Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)

In an email this week, Superintendent Eric
Williams praised the Student Records
Department staff for going well beyond their job
“Preserving educational records is preserving a
unique window into our history; especially when
those records reflect a community that history
often ignores,” he wrote. “I’m proud Loudoun
County Public Schools played a role in making
sure these records, which could so easily have
been ignored and lost, are protected and
available to scholars and those researching their
family history.”
Roeder and Arciero are asking for the
community’s help to complete the Edwin
Washington Project. They want to interview
men and women who attended or worked in
Loudoun’s segregated schools. They are also
looking for volunteers to help in their preservation efforts. Those interested can email Roeder at
[email protected].
[email protected]

The Edwin Washington Project. www.edwinwashingtonproject.org 703-867-2056.