In 1910, the Society became the repository for some important material relating to African American education in Delaware: records of the African School Society and the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People.
Before the passage of the School Law of 1829, Delaware did not have public, government-funded education as we understand it today. All education was private, and the schooling that children received depended on what their parents were willing and able to pay. Access to education also depended on whether there was a teacher available to run a school. Some poor white children attended charity schools, but black children had even fewer opportunities.
In 1809, a group of Quaker men saw the need to provide schools for blacks and founded the African School Society. In 1866, the Delaware Association took over their work. Between 1867 and 1876, the Association operated 32 schools throughout Delaware. Funding came from the Freedmen’s Bureau, their own fund-raising, and modest payments from students’ families. When Delaware began public schools for blacks in 1875, the Delaware Association administered the state funds (that came only from taxes paid by blacks) that supported the schools. After 1891, black schools came under the authority of the county school superintendents, so the Delaware Association went out of business.
How and why these records were placed with the Society is unknown—but Henry C. Conrad, avid historian and former Society president, was also a key member of the Delaware Association. His sense of history probably guided the group as it made its decision.