Black History Month at LU

The first installment of a series highlighting the history of Lincoln University

Young Hall is named for Nathan B. Young, who served LU as a teacher and twice as president from 1923-1931. (Clarion News drone photo)

Compiled by Clarion News staff (

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY – At the close of the Civil War, soldiers and officers of the 62nd United States Colored Infantry, stationed at Fort McIntosh, Texas, but composed primarily of Missourians, took steps to establish an educational institution in Jefferson City, Missouri, which they named Lincoln Institute. The following stipulations were set for the school:

  1. The institution shall be designed for the special benefit of the freed African-Americans;
    2.  It shall be located in the state of Missouri;
    3.  Its fundamental idea shall be to combine study and labor.

Members of the 62nd Colored Infantry contributed $5,000; this was supplemented by approximately $1,400, given by the 65th Colored Infantry. On January 14, 1866, Lincoln Institute was formally established under an organization committee. By June of the same year, it incorporated and the committee became a Board of Trustees. Richard Baxter Foster, a former first lieutenant in the 62nd Infantry, was named first principal of Lincoln Institute. On September 17, 1866, the school opened its doors to the first class in an old frame building in Jefferson City.

In 1870, the school began to receive aid from the state of Missouri for teacher training. In 1871, Lincoln Institute moved to the present campus.  College-level work was added to the curriculum in 1877, and passage of the Normal School Law permitted Lincoln graduates to teach for life in Missouri without further examination. Lincoln Institute formally became a state institution in 1879 with the deeding of the property to the state. Under the second Morrill Act of 1890, Lincoln became a land grant institution, and the following year industrial and agricultural courses were added to the curriculum.

In 1921, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill introduced by Walthall M. Moore, the first black American to serve in that body, which changed the name from Lincoln Institute to Lincoln University and created a Board of Curators to govern the University.

The North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accredited the high school division in 1925, the teacher-training program in 1926, and the four-year college of arts and sciences in 1934. Graduate instruction was begun in the summer session of 1940, with majors in education and history and minors in English, history, and sociology. A School of Journalism was established in February 1942.

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, and Lincoln University responded by opening its doors to all applicably meeting its entrance criteria. Today, Lincoln University serves a diverse clientele, both residential and non-residential, engages in a variety of research projects, and offers numerous public service programs in addition to providing an array of academic programs.

Other Notable LU Historical Facts

*In 1940, with a world war looming, LU began a pilot-training program. Ten students enrolled, nine received their pilot’s license, and two distinguished themselves in World War Two.

*Scruggs Student Center is named for a past president of the school, Dr. Sherman Scruggs (1938-1956). He oversaw the addition of the new journalism school and a law school (no longer at LU).

*In the 1930s, new students were forced to wear “freshman garb” for a few days. Their clothing consisted of shabby clothes for men and mismatched shoes for women. This was jokingly to note their “lowly” existence of freshmen.

*The library is named for Inman E. Page, president of LU from 1879-1898. Page, a former slave born in 1853 in Virginia, rose from a horse caretaker to a graduate of prestigious Brown University in 1877, where he was considered an excellent speaker and orator. Page would decline an offer to teach in the South, mainly due to a yellow fever epidemic, and ultimately decided to accept an offer to teach at the new Lincoln Institute – later Lincoln University. He returned to LU in 1922-23.

*In the 1880s, Lincoln became one of the first black schools to incorporate baseball and football and in the early 1920s was known for its track team. It still is today.

*In 1921, Lincoln Institute was renamed Lincoln University.

*In 1932, Lincoln University became the first HBCU to have a campus newspaper, The Clarion News.

*In 1942, Lincoln University became the first HBCU to offer a course of study in journalism.

*1967 – Aretha Franklin and Tommy Dorsey Band appeared in Richardson Auditorium.

*2016 – LU celebrates 150-year anniversary

*2022 – Dr. John Moseley selected as the 21st president of Lincoln University

About The Clarion News

Campus and community news produced by journalism students at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
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