1872 - 1891
After the Civil War, Missouri passed a mandate that required each town to educate Black children and provide a separate school if the community reached a threshold of 20 African American students. The Neosho School was converted from a residence to a one-room schoolhouse for that reason. The building was used from 1872 until the town voted to move the school into a new brick building in 1891. During those years, the Neosho School served students of all ages who were eager to learn; the most well-known of those students is George Washington Carver.
The Black agricultural scientist and inventor was born into slavery on a small farm in southwest Missouri. After the Civil War, he continued to live with his former owners, the Carvers, and learned housekeeping and agricultural sciences. At age 11, he began his formal education at the Neosho school. Carver eventually earned a Masters of Science degree at Iowa State in 1896 and joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute that same year. Throughout his long career as a scientist, he made groundbreaking discoveries in the realm of plant sciences, concentrating much of his work on improving soil quality and crop yields. Carver started his formal educational career in the same way many young Black children did in the wake of the Civil War: in small, cramped, segregated one-room schoolhouses. All over Missouri, Black and brown children were offered public education for the first time, and schools such as Neosho represent that shifting dynamic.
Date: 1872 - 1891
Subject: Schools; African Americans
Contributing Institution: Springfield-Greene Count Library District
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Photographer: Ben Divin
Photograph Date: 2021