Howard University

On November 20, 1866, ten members of the First Congregational Society of Washington, D.C., gathered in the home of Deacon Henry Brewster for a missionary meeting. While there, they resolved to establish a seminary for the training of African-American clergymen. By early 1867, the founders had broadened their mission to encompass colleges of liberal arts and medicine.

…for wherever and whenever measures are advanced for the welfare of the people and the direction of the masses there the sons of Howard will be found in the midst of them…

Professor Kelly Miller, President’s Address. In Sixth Triennial Meeting of the College Alumni Association of Howard University, College Chapel, May 18, 1892. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1892. African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection. Rare Book & Special Collections Division

Howard University, Washington, D.C. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, 2010. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division

Howard UniversityExternal was incorporated on March 2, 1867, and accepted its first students the following May. Its founders envisioned the institution as a resource for educating and training black physicians, teachers, and ministers from the nearly four million enslaved persons recently emancipated.

Portrait of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, Officer of the Federal Army. Brady’s National Photographic Portrait Galleries, photographer, between 1860-65. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division

The university was named for Major General Oliver O. Howard, a founder of the university as well as a Civil War hero and commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau (1865-72). Howard directed considerable resources towards establishing the university, including the original three-acre campus, the main building, and the old medical school.

Howard University was one of several educational institutions funded by the Freedmen’s Bureau for the purposes of providing education for the freedmen. Congress had established the bureau in 1865 to provide practical assistance to the newly freed people. The bureau facilitated the building of 45 hospitals and the education of approximately 150,000 former enslaved people before it was dismantled in 1872.

Law Graduating Class at Howard University, Washington, D.C. ca. 1900. African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exhibition. Prints & Photographs Division

Howard University’s distinguished alumni include Vice President Kamala Harris, former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Edward William Brooke, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, sociologist E. Franklin Frazier, playwright Imamu Amiri Baraka, statesman Ralph Bunche, and civil rights leader and attorney Vernon Jordan. Charles Hamilton Houston, vice-dean of the Howard University School of Law from 1929-35, was a key architect of the legal strategy that ultimately overturned the separate but equal standard adopted by the Supreme Court in 1894, bringing an end to the segregation of public facilities in the South. Thurgood Marshall, who argued the case that overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, was one of many lawyers who had studied with Houston at Howard.

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The Alaskan Frontier

On November 20, 1942, U.S. Army engineers, working closely with partners in U.S. civilian agencies and Canada, officially opened the Alaska Highway. This overland military supply route, originally known as the Alcan Highway, passed through the Yukon, running from the prairies of British Columbia to the Territory of Alaska. The roadway was over 1,500-miles long and connected Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Fairbanks, Alaska. It provided Americans and Canadians on the Pacific coast new avenues for the transportation of goods, and an increased sense of security after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and escalating hostility in the Pacific. This first phase of construction was completed in less than eight months.

Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range, Mt. McKinley National Park, Alaska. E.O. Goldbeck, photographer; National Photo & News Service, c1958. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

In the 1780s, Russian fur traders became the first European settlers of the land across the Bering Strait from Siberia. Russian influence on native Alaskans is explored in the Library of Congress exhibition In the Beginning Was the Word: The Russian Church and Native Alaskan Cultures. The Library’s collaborative digital project with Russian libraries, Meeting of Frontiers, explores the comparative history of the Russian expansion across Siberia to the Russian Far East and the Pacific, the American expansion westward, and the meeting of the Russian-America frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

The Russian-American Company administered Alaska from 1799 until 1867, when Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska for the United States. Congress established the Territory of Alaska in 1912, prompted by the significant gold discoveries of the 1880s and 1890s.

Assay Office in Foreground, Mill Behind… Jet Lowe, photographer, May 1981. Independence Mine, Palmer Vicinity, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. Prints & Photographs Division

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