: This photograph shows S.T. Mitchell Hall, C. N. & I. Wilberforce University, a structure designed by Frank Packard and erected in 1912. (C.N.&I. refers to "Combined Normal and Industrial" department.) As seen in this photo, Mitchell Hall is a three-story building situated on an expanse of lawn with a few young trees. The building was used as a residence hall for 75 girls, an office, a kitchen and dining room, and a small laundry. Six employees lived on the premises. This image is part of the data gathered from an inventory of physical properties owned by the state, ca. 1931. The inventory was conducted by the Ohio Department of Finance in 1931.
In 1856, the Methodist Episcopal Church established Wilberforce University near Xenia, Ohio, to provide African American access to a college education. The university was the first private black college in the United States. Its founders named the institution after William Wilberforce, a prominent eighteenth-century abolitionist. A number of African-American Ohioans attended the school during its early years. During the American Civil War, attendance declined as many students enlisted in the Union army. Wilberforce University closed in 1862.
In 1863, the African Methodist Episcopal Church acquired ownership of the university. Under the direction of Daniel Payne, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, John Mitchell, the principal of a school in Cincinnati, and James Shorter, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor from Zanesville, Ohio, Wilberforce reopened its doors. The institution operated as a private university serving the African-American community for the next twenty-four years. In 1887, the State of Ohio began to provide Wilberforce with funds to help finance the institution, brought to an end the university's exclusively private status. The state also helped the university create a Normal and Industrial Department that eventually evolved into Central State University.
Wilberforce University has experienced steady growth throughout the twentieth century. During the last decades of the twentieth century, the institution built a new residence hall, a student health center, a recreation and sports facility, and an administrative center. The university offers more than twenty degree programs and has exchange programs with universities around the world. In 2003, enrollment was more than 1,200 students. View on Ohio Memory.
: AL05851 Subjects
: Cultural Ohio--Education; Wilberforce University; Historical Black Colleges and Universities; Education, Higher--Ohio--History; Historic buildings--Ohio--Columbus--Pictorial works; Xenia (Ohio) Places
: Wilberforce (Ohio); Greene County (Ohio)