The Manual Training and Industrial School in
Bordentown was an important institution for the education of young
African American women. It was founded in 1886 by an African Methodist
Episcopal Minister, the Reverend W. A. Rice, in an effort to introduced
the vocational education concepts of Booker T. Washington. Sometimes
celebrated as the "Tuskegee of the North," The Bordentown
School graduated approximately 100 students a year. The school focused
on vocational trade training and academic studies for girls and boys
from grades 8 to 12. In 1894, the state took over the school, which
became known as the New Jersey State Manual Training and Industrial
School for Colored Youth.
This photograph, c.1932, of a domestic science
class for young African American women, documents the school’s goal of
training girls for employment that was thought appropriate at the time.
The school was praised by educators such as John Dewey for its
combination of manual and academic training. The photo appeared in The
Negro in New Jersey by noted Black sociologist Ira De A. Reid, who
documented the living conditions of Blacks in New Jersey for the
National Urban League and the federal government.
The school closed on June 30, 1955. The campus
then became the Edward R. Johnstone Education and Training Center. In
1996, the Johnstone Campus was turned over to the Juvenile Justice
Commission. The Manual Training and Industrial School has been placed on
the state and national register of historic places. A monument honoring
the school’s role in the education of New Jersey’s African American
girls and boys was dedicated by Secretary of State Regena Thomas on
October 6, 2002.