We’re sure that many of you can remember the name of the most influential teachers in your life or your children’s life; and collectively through history, where would we be without them?

Today, May 3, is National Teacher Appreciation Day and is a great time to reflect on the important work that teachers do each and every day. Preservation Maryland would also like to use this day to revisit the history of the Rosenwald Schools.

When Booker T. Washington was a professor at the Tuskegee Institute, his idea to support the education of young rural African-Americans was supported by the philanthropic owner of the Sears, Roebuck and Company, Julius Rosenwald. After a pilot of 7 schools showed progress, Rosenwald created a specific fund for additional schools, and with those funds over 5,500 schools were established between 1915 and 1932, serving over 660,000 students.

In Maryland, 53 of the 153 original Rosenwald Schools are still standing today. Susan Perl (pictured above), the Historian of Prince George’s County, is one of the leading scholars of Rosenwald Schools in Maryland and has compiled this list of schools with detailed information on their location, use, and condition. The Rosenwald resources of Anne Arundel County have been further researched a Multiple Property Documentation Form approved by the National Park Service in 2005.

Additional research and continued preservation of these sites, and other sites of segregation and struggle, stretch us to interpret and never forget some of America’s most difficult history. The Rosenwald schools were a tremendous partnership and helped fill a significant need in providing access to African-American children to teachers for education and inspiration.

The photo above from the Preservation Maryland collection features the Galesville Rosenwald School with Gertrude Makell, a former student of the school, and historian Susan Pearl. Our Preservation Month posts were written and prepared by Rachel Rettaliata, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns. Rachel’s work with us focuses on communications and advocacy. She is a Fulbright Scholar and will be attending the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland this fall. Learn more about Rachel and our intern program here: presmd.org/waxter.