Women at Hampton, 1930-1959

Gail Ellayne Cash, Marquette University


This study examines women's education at one Black college, Hampton Institute, and Hampton women's subsequent involvement in community service during the period from 1930 to 1959. The research concentrates on the college life of women along with the contributions of female faculty, administration and staff during the designated time period. It links Hampton women's experiences to their achievements in the Black Virginia community. The study provides an interpretation of African American women's higher education from the onset of collegiate level studies at Hampton Institute until the zenith of the Civil Rights era. Problems for study converge on the methods used and the programs which emerged to educate women at Hampton Institute along with the resulting graduates' impact on Black community life. The traditional approach to historical method is used to analyze data found in the Hampton University Archives and to arrive at an historical interpretation. Evidence gathered in the form of letters, annual reports, speeches, memos, catalogs, student records and information given to students is used as indicators of the practices and circumstances that were part of the women's existence. The results demonstrate that the group studied was typically first generation college students and lived within a concentric geographic location of the college. They selected courses of study leading to teaching, nursing, home economics and library professions. The educational preparation took place in a structured social environment designed to develop participants of the Black middle class. Upon completion of their studies, Hampton women made significant contributions in Virginia's African American community. The study concludes that the educational preparation of the women was devised to meet the need to prepare African American women for the distinctive middle class experience and for the existing work in the segregated life of that era. Hampton's preparation also formed the foundation for these women to establish and maintain a major portion of the existing educational and social welfare programs available to the African American community of Virginia, since these needs were largely ignored by state and public agencies.

Recommended Citation

Cash, Gail Ellayne, "Women at Hampton, 1930-1959" (1994). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9433772.