Elizabeth City, North Carolina: Elizabeth City State University’s Beginnings, 1891

Elizabeth City State University historical marker. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1973.
Elizabeth City State University historical marker. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1973. Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013.
Principal Peter W. Moore and students at what’s now Elizabeth City State University in 1899. Image from ECSU Archives. (Source: NC Culture)

On March 3, 1891, legislation passed creating a Normal and Industrial School in Elizabeth City. The school was founded with the express purpose of ‘teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.’

The bill began in the House of Representatives and was championed by Hugh Cale, an African American who represented Pasquotank County. Cale, who was a free person of color before the Civil War, had been involved in African American education immediately following the Civil War and served on the Pasquotank County Board of Education.

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