With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Black Teacher Archive will locate and digitize the complete collections of journals published by “Colored Teacher Associations.” The ultimate goal is to create an open and freely accessible online portal for centralizing and preserving the legacy of Black teachers before 1970. The portal will provide researchers and educators with the tools to begin closing this persistent knowledge-gap in African American history.

Colored Teacher Associations

One particularly important chapter of the history of Black educators are the “Colored Teachers Associations,” (CTA) which formed a robust professional public as early as 1861. State-wide associations were formed in Southern states during Reconstruction, and in some Northern and Midwestern states during Jim Crow. The national organization, National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools, later named the American Teachers Association, was founded in 1904. Black teachers founded CTAs to enhance educational opportunities for Black children, and to develop themselves as professionals, political actors and intellectuals. However, by the 1970s the United States government and the National Education Association forced all CTAs to merge with white professional associations with the wave of desegregation efforts.


“Colored Teacher Associations” began to publish monthly or quarterly journals in the 1920s. Serving as the “official organs” of state associations, the pages of these publications are a treasure trove of diverse materials regarding the history of African American education, civil rights organizing, pedagogical practices and intellectual history. We estimate there to be more than 650 volumes of CTA journals, composed of approximately 5,000 issues. The publication of CTA journals gradually ended as these organizations merged with white professional organizations in the late 1960s. Below are examples of “Colored Teacher Association” journals in repository digital collections.

Georgia Teacher and Education Association Herald, convention issue, volume 24, number 3 (1958). Georgia State University Library, Southern Labor Archives.
Bulletin of the Florida State Teachers Association Volume XXXI, No. 4 (1956). Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, Archives and Special Collections.
The Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal v.9 n.3, March-April, 1938. University of Kentucky, Special Collections Research Center. Prairie View A&M, Special Collections & Archives Department.