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Bessie Emanuel photo album at Hampton Institute

 Collection — Flat_Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 16823

Content Description

This collection contains a brown faux leather photo album (7.25" X 11.25") belonging to Bessie Emanuel. Bessie (1902-1984) was raised in White Plains, New York. She was the first Black woman in her town to attend college, entering the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1922. The photographs are dated from 1922 to 1924 and capture daily life at the Institute, sports events, friends, and family. Captions are found throughout the album. A picture of Bessie with her family in the Hampton Institute dining room features a poem dedicated to her parents on its reverse. The album was compiled by Black students at Hampton Institute.

Hampton Institute, founded in 1868, was created to educate freedmen after the Civil War. Booker T. Washington was among its notable graduates. Bessie died in 1984, the same year the Hampton Institute gained university status.


  • Creation: 1922-1924


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Bessie Emanuel, later Bessie Emanuel Smith, was raised in White Plains, New York, the daughter of Baptist minister Christopher H. Emanuel and his wife Lucy Kittrell Emanuel. She was the first African American student from the town to attend college, graduating from the Hampton Institute in 1925, and afterwards earning a master's degree from Columbia University. She was a "much beloved and honored teacher" (including at the New York City School for the Blind), and in 1945 became the first African American teacher in White Plains. She served as vice president of the White Plains chapter of the NAACP and received the National Sojourner Truth Award -- the highest honor conferred by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs.


.19 Cubic Feet (Photo album 9 x12 box. 20x29 cm. (7.25" X 11.25"))

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from James E. Arsenault and Company by the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on 29 August 2023.

Related Materials

Jessie Fuller scrapbook at Hampton Institute MSS 15005. (Fuller scrapbook is shadowed because there is a Virgo record with a digital record of the scrapbook file:///C:/Users/elg3e/Downloads/tsb%20103963.pdf



Bessie Emanuel photo album at Hampton Institute
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States