The school pages are a summary of important information. More background can be found at the Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia. The project also maintains a channel on YouTube with videos on many schools and other topics such as transportation. Interviews by former students are also there. In addition, the project is developing several books. As each is published, more promotional information will be given on how to buy them. We also need to acknowledge the essential work over many years conducted by other historians like Eugene M. Scheel, who produced the Loudoun Discovered series in partnership with the Friends of the Balch Library. Gene has been a wonderful friend to the Edwin Washington Project.
- Dirt Don’t Burn. By Larry Roeder and Barry Harrelson, published by Georgetown University Press on the Black experience with segregated education in Loudoun.
- Digital Map. The project has developed digital maps based on Google Maps and ESRI technologies that show all known locations and provide links to the school pages on the website.
- Untitled forthcoming photo essay book on segregated schools up to 1968 in Loudoun County.
- Untitled forthcoming book on petitions used to enhance education during segregation.
One of the initial efforts by the Edwin Washington Project was to identify the location of all former white and “colored” schools, which was not always easy. Though a few buildings like Ashburn have been well known, few street addresses or precise maps existed during segregation. Project volunteers traveled about the county and the country, interviewing former students or their ancestors, examining plats and other property documents in LCPS records or in the archives of the Circuit Court of Loudoun County. See also the project’s digital map.
As the Washington Post and others have remarked, schools associated with Blacks (then called Colored) are disappearing; but many organizations are trying to preserve the available knowledge on these schools. We have seen this in Rustberg, Virginia where the Black community is preserving and improving the largest cluster of Rosenwald schools in the country. In Fredericksburg, Texas, a valiant effort is underway to return the old school house to its original location, next to the former “colored” school.
In Loudoun County, VA, the Edwin Washington Society has been a key partner in efforts to preserve Douglass, the first dedicated Black High School Building, as well as the Leesburg Training Center. Waterford, VA has preserved and maintains a former “colored” school. Sadly, most have largely been forgotten, torn down, or repurposed as residences, art studios, churches, etc. The public has had little access to documentation, including even the addresses, so this kind of research became a priority for the Edwin Washington Project.
We have not assembled a comprehensive list but we are constantly looking for new information to add to the growing body of knowledge we have accumulated on many black and white rural schools in Loudoun County. There are difficulties in research as some schools may have changed names over time, therefore there is the potential for duplication of schools under more than one name. Because early records can be confusing, we welcome any corrections and are asking the community at large to let the committee know of relatives who might have studied at one of these schools and to share photographs, old notebooks, etc.
We have also developed a digital map to show visitors where the schools were located. Hopefully, this kind of information will draw positive attention to the buildings, preserve those that still stand and encourage the erection of markers for all, including those no longer standing like the Bluemont Colored School, the remains of which can only be reached by foot in a forest.
In this section you will find a list of Loudoun County schools based on LCPS files, work by the Black History Committee, the archives of the Circuit Court of Loudoun and private holdings. Also of great value was the 2004 study, Loudoun County African-American Historical Architectural Resources Survey. by the History Matters Staff for the Balch Library and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. See also Desegregation in Loudoun County Public Schools 1954-1970, Prepared for Loudoun County Public Schools by Evelyn D. Causey, Ph.D. and Julia Claypool, History Matters, LLC, April 30, 2010.