Rosenwald Schools Initiative


rosenwald 2015

Online registration has closed but registration will be available onsite on June 17

The National Trust for Historic Preservation along with a team of local partners are proud to present the 2015 National Rosenwald Schools Conference: Sharing the Past→Shaping the Future in Durham, North Carolina. Once home to the largest number of Rosenwald Schools, North Carolina is rich with Rosenwald School restoration and rehabilitation activities. Durham and the surrounding area will serve as a living laboratory through field tours to the many Rosenwald Schools and historic sites in the area, classroom sessions, oral history archiving, documentaries, hands-on preservation workshops, and informative local tours and activities that will foster documentation and preservation of Rosenwald Schools, and help shape a vision for their future.

Program Details

The 2015 Rosenwald Conference Preliminary Program is now available. Find out more details about schedule, action topics and special events in the preliminiary program.

Looking for a bit more detail? A more complete look at educational, lightning and poster session titles and speakers, as well as a listing of documentaries is available online.

For more details on Friday night's Jazz Soiree hosted by the Russell Rosenwald School, click here.


Keynote at Welcoming Plenary: Dr. Dudley Flood has a history with Rosenwald Schools, having attended the C.S. Brown school in Winton, NC, and a lifetime of professional experience working in education. He is known as the "champion of desegregation" for his campaign to desegregate every public school in the state of North Carolina. Listen to an interview with Dr. Flood here. His energy and infectious enthusiasm will motivate us as we Shape the Future of Rosenwald Schools!

Closing Plenary: Congressman G. K. Butterfield, the U. S. Representative for 1st congressional district of North Carolina will be the keynote speaker for the closing plenary to be held Friday, June 18th, 4:00pm at the B.N. Duke Auditorium on the North Carolina Central University Campus.  Butterfield is the chair of the 114th Congress of the Congressional Black Caucus. An organization representing the black members of the United States Congress. His mother taught at a Rosenwald School in North Carolina.

Conference Location

The Durham Convention Center and the historic Carolina Theater serve as the center for conference activities, with events at the Durham Armory, Museum of Durham History, and the B.N. Duke Auditorium at North Carolina Central University. A Rosenwald Resource room for poster sessions, exhibitors, networking with others, and a book store will serve as a central gathering place between sessions and host book signings with authors of Rosenwald publications.


Travel to Durham is convenient from most parts of the country via the Raleigh/Durham airport (RDU), by car, bus or train. Visit the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau website for travel information and things to see and do in Durham.

For information on conference hotels, click here.

Questions?  Contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at 843-722-8552 or email

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Rosenwald Schools, A National Treasure

In 1912, Booker T. Washington approached philanthropist Julius Rosenwald about his concept to build rural schools desperately needed for African American children across the segregated south. That partnership sparked an initiative that eventually created more than 5300 schools, vocational shops and teacher’s homes across 15 states in the South and Southwest from 1912-1932.

These schools now are 80-100 years old, and many suffer from abandonment, neglect, or lack of resources for continued use by the communities they once served. In 2002 the National Trust placed Rosenwald Schools on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list and created a special initiative to help raise awareness, find new uses, provide resources, and assist in the preservation and rehabilitation of the aging school buildings.

In 2011, the National Trust began focusing the work of the entire organization around saving a portfolio of nationally significant, threatened historic places that we call National Treasures—and Rosenwald Schools were awarded National Treasure status. Our mission to save Rosenwald Schools remains the same but our strategy is more focused and powerful.

Visit for more frequent updates on Rosenwald Schools and to view the complete portfolio of National Treasures we are striving to save.

National Treasures are a growing portfolio of irreplaceable places that epitomize the American story, but face distinct threats. The entire National Trust for Historic Preservation is working to save them.

Preserving Rosenwald Schools

Download the Preserving Rosenwald Schools Booklet

Learn about the history and legacy of Rosenwald Schools, read case studies of successful rehabilitation projects, find ideas for reusing the schools, and get helpful tips and suggestions for rehabilitating Rosenwald Schools in the Grassroots Guide to Preserving Rosenwald Schools. Download your own copy of Preserving Rosenwald Schools here. To receive a bound copy of the 24-page booklet, email

Find a Rosenwald School: Fisk University’s Digital Card Files

Fisk University’s Franklin Library is home to the Julius Rosenwald Fund archives, containing the largest single collection of papers from the Rosenwald School building program. One portion of that collection is a set of 5,000 fragile index cards containing information on almost every Rosenwald school constructed. Search this digital database if you are seeking information on a specific Rosenwald School or trying to determine if a school in your county is a Rosenwald School. Learn more.