Education Resources on School Desegregation
The education resources on this site can be used to support K-12 education, as well as
undergraduate study of the Civil Rights Movement and the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board
decision. Most of the primary source materials come from the holdings of National
Archives regional programs from around the country, particularly federal court records.
There is some special emphasis on the Mid Atlantic Region, which includes links to
complimentary photographs and documents from other institutions in the Greater
Philadelphia area. We appreciate the cooperation of our many partners in preparing this
web resource and have noted their contributions in the respective citations for
The story of school desegregation is a complex one. It did not begin with the Brown v. Board case. It is not just an African American experience. It is interwoven into broader civil rights efforts beyond the issues of schools. The accomplishment of an affirmative decision in the Brown v. Board case is also the result of a tireless tactical strategy by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund under the leadership of Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall to incrementally and strategically break down racial barriers in America.
In many communities throughout the United States, people of color (non-white) had to fight for the right to attend non-segregated publicly funded schools. The battle to desegregate schools questioned the boundaries of public and private rights, as well as states' rights and the notion of "separate but equal". The struggle to eliminate segregated schools also tested racial tolerance in communities, the rule of law in America, and the governance powers of school boards.
Strategies and worksheets for using the primary sources documents presented here in the classroom can be found at the National Archives Education portal.
School Desegregation and Civil Rights Stories:
- Ketchikan, Alaska. Irene Jones, a twelve year old girl of mixed Alaskan Indian and white heritage in Alaska, 1929.
- Orange County, California. The Mendez Case, Mexican American children in 1949. The NAACP files an amicus brief.
- Oklahoma University. Segregation in Higher Education, 1948.
- Pulaski County, Virginia, 1947. An effort by the NAACP to achieve equal schools for African American.
- Claymont, Delaware. On site viewing of "A Separate Place", the story of the education of African Americans in Delaware following the Civil War and through Belton v. Gebhart.
- South Carolina (Briggs v. Elliott). Explore the case of the courageous Reverend J.A. Delaine and the NAACP's efforts to end segregation in South Carolina public schools.
- Prince Edward County, Virginia (Davis v. County School Board). It started when 11th grader Barbara Rose Johns led fellow students to boycott for improvements in their high school. More. . .
- Girard College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1965. A fourteen year struggle to end segregation is accomplished by William T. Coleman, a main architect of the legal strategy leading to the Brown v. Board decision.
- Chicago, Illinois. Student School Boycott, 1965
- Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Explore how the Truman Presidency paved the way for the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library. Examine President Eisenhower's decisions on the Little Rock, Arkansas crisis.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Explore Civil Rights history during the Kennedy Administration.
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. Explore Civil Rights at "LBJ for Kids".