Site Overview

The Texas economy in the late nineteenth century experienced tremendous growth, due in large part to farming and ranching. As cities and towns began to grow, the state recognized the need for a more literate population and established the office of state superintendent of instruction and school districts with the authority to levy taxes to fund public education. The state also opened the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M University) in 1876 and the University of Texas in 1883.

Literacy in Texas rose from 70.3% in 1800 to 85.5% in 1900. However, racial minorities developed separate social communities, partly because of Anglo-American discrimination, resulting in lack of educational opportunities. Nevertheless, literacy rose among blacks from 24.6% to 61.8% during the same period (Barr, par. 10). The increase in students enrolled in school demanded more trained teachers, giving rise to the normal schools for teacher training.

This webtext presents an aggregate of related images and information depicting the growth of literacy in Northeast Texas. The works presented are a result of extensive archival research for a graduate course at Texas A&M University-Commerce taught by Dr. Shannon Carter entitled “Writing in the New Media” and in response to the course theme “Remixing Northeast Texas.” Digital media projects presented here were remixed from artifacts available in the
Northeast Texas Digital Collections and other archives that allow derivatives. Literacy statistics from Alwyn Barr, "Late Nineteenth Century Texas," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

What Did Literacy Learning Look Like in Northeast Texas?

Training School Students Reading Books
Click the image to begin exploring the literacy pursuits of Northeast Texans.

Training School Students Reading Books, 1943. Texas A&M University-Commerce Digital Collections.