Schools in Texas experienced phenomenal development during the state’s first century, beginning with informal open-air classrooms and one-room schools in the 1830s and continuing up to modern elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools built with oil money in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of these schools remain today and offer a unique starting point for learning about the history of education in Texas. To preserve this history, Mary Black and Bruce Jordan set out to find and photograph historically significant school buildings across the state. The documentary record they present in Early Texas Schools shows how ardently Texans of all races and walks of life have aspired to educate their children, succeeding even in the face of geographical isolation, poverty, and racism.
Early Texas Schools gathers images of schools built from the 1850s to the 1930s, as well as in all regions of the state. The buildings tell many remarkable stories, including how Anglos, African Americans, Mexican Americans, German immigrants, and other groups approached the education of their children. Particularly interesting are the stories of African American and Mexican American schools, which provided the only formal education their students could obtain during the era of segregation. Accompanying the photographs is a concise history of education in Texas, from the very rudimentary instruction available during the Republic to the development of modern universities around the turn of the twentieth century.