From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

African American Schools in Barbourville and Knox County, KY

As early as 1895, there were 6 colored schools in Knox County, KY, and the schools were in session for 5 months each year, and with one teacher at each school [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1895-1897, pp.479-483]. The average attendance was 195 for 1895-96, and 141 for 1896-97. The Barbourville Colored School was taught by Zuetta Minor in 1907 and by Prof. Edward Kirtley in 1908 [source: "Colored School," Mountain Advocate, 12/25/1908, p. 1].

By 1905, there were seven colored schools in Knox County, KY, and that included the new brick school building in Barbourville, and there were plans to combine two of the school districts [source: Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky, 1905-1907, pp. 135-137]. In 1910, the Barbourville School, considered a county school, had 35 students on the first day of classes; Mary Dee Robinson was the teacher [source: "Colored School Opens," Mountain Advocate, 07/15/1910, p. 3]. The Bertha Colored School held its commencement in January of 1910. Miss Laura Gibson had been the school teacher for two years [source: "Commencement: Colored School of Bertha," Mountain Advocate, 01/14/1910, p. 3]. Laura Gibson lived in Emanuel [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 18-21, 1923, p. 59].

The Barbourville schools had been overseen by a white school board until 1921, when the Board of Council of the City of Barbourville ordained that the white school have a white board of education, and the colored school have a colored board of education [source: "Ordinance," Mountain Advocate, 09/16/1921, p. 4].

In 1940, R. H. Thompson was principal of the Rosenwald High School in Barbourville [source: Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, October-November 1940, p. 32]. The Negro teachers in Knox County in 1940 were Benjamin F. Brown, Grace Etter, Laura Gibson, and Horace J. Neal [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Miss Laura Gibson retired from teaching at Barbourville Independent in 1942 [source: "Honor to whom honor is due," Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, November-December 1942, p. 7]. The Barbourville Independent Schools were first to be listed as integrated in the Kentucky Public School Directory, 1956-57, p.438.

  • Colored Schools (7)
  • Barbourville Independent School
  • Barbourville School
  • Bertha School
  • Emanuel School
  • Rosenwald High School
  • Rosenwald Elementary School

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Knox County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Barbourville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bertha, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“African American Schools in Barbourville and Knox County, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-11-21 02:23:04