April 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Elihu Yale and Booker T. Washington

n this day in 1649, Elihu Yale was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his family moved to England while he was very young, and he served as a governor in the country of India as an adult.

Despite the fact that Yale never lived anywhere in America after age three, a man named Cotton Mather wrote to Yale for help when the small Connecticut college he represented
needed funds to build a new building in New Haven.

Called at the tim
e Collegiate School of Connecticut, the institution was so grateful for the crates of goods that Yale sent (things that were sold for a pretty goodly sum of money), the new building was named after Yale. Eventually the entire university was named Yale—and it has become one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S.!

Strange but True
  • One of the “goods” that Yale sent to be sold as a fund raiser was “25 pieces of garlic.” I know you're thinking, heads of garlic or cloves of garlic?—plus, didn't this part of the gift make everything else in the box stinky? However, never fear: at the time, garlic was the name of a kind of cloth!
  • There is a Yale College in Wales (part of the United Kingdom / Great Britain) that is also named after this same Elihu Yale.
  • According to Wikipedia, another donor who made very generous gifts to Yale University quite likely could have had the university named after him, but unfortunately his name was Jeremiah Dummer, and the powers-that-be did not want the college to be named “Dummer College.”

On this day in 1856, Booker T. Washington was born in Virginia. He was born into slavery and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. But he was freed from hard work as a slave only to have to work hard in the salt furnaces and coal mines—even though he was just a kid!

Eventually Washington walked miles to Hampton Institute, which educated “freedmen.” There and at another school, Washington studied to be
come a teacher. He became the first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a new all-black college begun in Alabama. (Today it is called Tuskegee University.)

Washington became an important black leader, speaking and writing as well as teaching. Some blacks questioned Washington's tactics, saying he was too accommodating to white people. However, because Washington socialized and got along with many rich white people, he was able to gain support for many black schools as well as his college.

Interesting and True
  • Booker T. Washington's mom was named Jane. Just Jane--slaves often had no “last names” or surnames. When Booker was able to go to a school for the first time, after he had been freed, the other kids were telling the teacher their names, and Booker realized that they all had two names. When it came time to tell his name, he said, "'Booker Washington,' as if I had been called by that name all my life.”
  • With Washington leading the way, the students of Tuskegee Institute built their school with their own hands. They built classrooms and barns, they grew their own crops, and they raised livestock to meet most of their needs. The school didn't churn out graduates who became farmers and tradesmen, but instead it graduated teachers of farming and of the trades.
  • One of his books, Up From Slavery, was a best seller during his lifetime, earned him an invitation to Teddy Roosevelt's White House, and is still widely read today.
Read about Booker T. Washington in this “Virtual Storybook” (click the “Virtual Storybook” label to get started).

The “Virtual Museum” provides a quick overview of his life, and older kids might like this “slide show” of Washington's life.

Do a jigsaw puzzle
to see a photo of Booker T. Washington.

What was a “normal school”?

It didn't mean an ordinary school – instead, the word normal in the name of a school meant that it was a school to train people to become teachers. (This name comes from the idea that teachers instruct kids on the norms of learning.)
How many words for school do you know? Fill in the vowels to discover some.
1. S ___ M ___ N ___ R Y

2. ___ C ___ D ___ M Y

3. C ___ L L ___ G ___

4. ___ N S T ___ T ___ T ___

5. N ___ R S ___ R Y

6.___ N ___ V ___ R S ___ T Y

7. C ___ N S ___ R V ___ T ___ R Y

8. K ___ N D ___ R G ___ R T ___ N

9. S ___ N ___ ___ R H ___ G H



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