A Better Life for Their Children

Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the 4,978 Schools That Changed America

On Display
Exhibition Type
Limited Time Display
Time Period
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Art & Architecture
Black History
Two people hold an ornately frame painted portrait of two people in early 1900s dress

Elroy & Sophia Williams – Sophia Williams’s Grandparents, Former Slaves, Acquired and Donated Land for a Rosenwald School. Photo by Andrew Feiler. 

Admission: Included with Museum Daily Admission

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Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington forged one of the earliest collaborations between Jews and African Americans to create schools throughout the nation for Black children who had no access to publicly funded education. From 1912 to 1937, the Rosenwald schools program built thousands of schools, shops, and teacher’s homes across 15 Southern states. For the first comprehensive photographic account of the Rosenwald Schools program, Andrew Feiler drove more than 25,000 miles and photographed 105 schools in all 15 of the program states. The exhibition features 26 photographs by Andrew Feiler of interiors and exteriors, schools restored and yet-to-be restored, and portraits of people with compelling connections to these schools.

The exhibition is derived from Feiler’s book, A Better Life for Their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the 4,978 Schools That Changed America, which includes eighty-five duotone images and an introduction by the late Congressman John Lewis, who attended a Rosenwald school in Alabama.


Presenting Sponsors
Melanie Trent De Schutter
Supporting Sponsors
Dr. Tamara Charity-Brown & Carlos M. Brown Exhibition Fund
Helen E. Dragas Foundation
Katherine & Jack Nelson
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald F. Smith, Jr.
Community Foundation for a greater Richmond
Arenstein Family
Barbara J. Thalhimer & William B. Thalhimer, Jr. Family
Lettie Pate Evans Changing Exhibition Fund