This Goodly Land
Booker T. Washington (April 5, 1856–November 14, 1915)
Other Names Used
- Booker Taliaferro: birth name
- Booker Taliaferro Washington: full name
- Tuskegee, Macon County: cofounder and principal of and professor at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University)
- Washington, Booker T. The Future of the American Negro. Boston: Small, Maynard & Co., 1899. Rpt. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. An online version of The Future of the American Negro is available from Google Book Search.
- Washington, Booker T., and Edgar Webber. The Story of My Life and Work. Naperville, Ill.: J. L. Nichols & Co., 1900. Rpt. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. An online version of The Story of My Life and Work is available from Documenting the American South.
- Washington, Booker T., and Max Bennett Thrasher. Up From Slavery: An Autobiography. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1901. Rpt. as Up From Slavery, with Related Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. An online version of Up From Slavery is available from Documenting the American South.
- Washington, Booker T., and S. Laing Williams. Frederick Douglass. Philadelphia: G. W. Jacobs & Co., 1906. An online version of Frederick Douglass is available from Documenting the American South.
- Washington, Booker T. My Larger Education: Being Chapters From My Experience. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1911. An online version of My Larger Education is available from Documenting the American South.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave on a small plantation in southwestern Virginia. After the Civil War, the family moved to Malden, W.Va., to join his stepfather. Washington worked in a salt furnace and coal mines to help support his family and attended night classes whenever possible. After learning about the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute (now Hampton University), a school in Virginia that allowed black students to work for their education, he made his way there, largely by walking and hitching rides. He graduated from Hampton with a BA in 1875 and returned home to teach school in Malden. He also spent a year at Wayland Seminary in Washington, DC, where he earned an MA in 1879 before returning to Hampton as a teacher.
In 1881, Washington went to Tuskegee, Ala., to found a school similar to Hampton Institute. When he arrived, there were many eager students, but no land, buildings, teachers, or money to start the school. After securing buildings for temporary classrooms, he established the school following the principles of the Hampton Institute: to promote the dignity of labor and to teach every student a useful trade in addition to more traditional education. His efforts to raise money for the school led him into a public speaking career, which took him around the country and made him a spokesperson for American blacks. He believed that self-reliance and shared knowledge would enable the black race to rise from the degradation into which slavery had placed them. Although his critics accused him of being an “Uncle Tom,” he believed that equal rights would benefit both races but would have to come gradually in order to be accepted.
Interests and Themes
Washington’s autobiography Up From Slavery has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1901. Its emphasis on hard work and self-improvement as the path to success echo that of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. His speeches and essays continue the theme and stress the message that blacks and whites can and should live and work together in a state of well-earned mutual respect.
For More Information
Please check your local library for these materials. If items are not available locally, your librarian can help you borrow them through the InterLibrary Loan program. Your librarian can also help you find other information about this author.
There may be more information available through the databases in the Alabama Virtual Library. If you are an Alabama citizen, AVL can be used at your public library or school library media center. You can also get a username and password from your librarian to use AVL at home.
- Brundage, W. Fitzhugh, ed. Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: Up From Slavery 100 Years Later. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.
- Gosda, Randy T. Booker T. Washington: A Buddy Book. Edina, Minn.: Abdo Pub. Co., 2002. For younger readers.
- Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.
- Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.
- McKissack, Pat, and Frederick McKissack. Booker T. Washington: Leader and Educator. Hillside, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2001. For younger readers.
- Schroeder, Alan, and Anne Beier. Booker T. Washington: Educator and Racial Spokesman. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. For younger readers.
- Verney, Kevern. The Art of the Possible: Booker T. Washington and Black Leadership in the United States, 1881-1925. New York: Routledge, 2001.
Reference Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries
- "Washington, Booker T(aliaferro) 1856-1915"; Something About the Author. Vol. 28. Detroit: Gale Research Company, . 213-222.
Reference Web Sites
- The Booker T. Washington Papers Online. The University of Illinois Press. 2000. The University of Illinois and the History Cooperative. http://www.historycooperative.org/btw/.
- "Booker T. Washington". Earliest Voices: A Gallery from the Vincent Voice Library. 2001. Matrix—The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, Michigan State University. http://www.historicalvoices.org/earliest_voices/washington.html.
- Brooks, F. Erik. "Booker T. Washington". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. 2008. Alabama Humanities Foundation and Auburn University. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1506.
- Harlan, Louis R. "Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915". Documenting the American South. 2004. University of North Carolina. http://docsouth.unc.edu/washington/bio.html .
- Metress, Christopher. "Up From Slavery". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. 2008. Alabama Humanities Foundation and Auburn University. http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1562.
- Reeser, D. Martin. "Washington, Booker T". Learning to Give. 2005. http://www.learningtogive.org/papers/index.asp?bpid=133.
- Wells, Jeremy. "Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)". Encyclopedia Virginia. 2009. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Washington_Booker_T_1856-1915.
Location of Papers
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-49568.
Last updated on May 30, 2008.