The Franklin Library
at Fisk University participated in all three HBCU Preservation Projects
and focused much of their work on preserving photographs that document
Fisk's history and the history of the Fisk Jubilee Singers®.
Fisk School, sometimes known as the Fisk Free Colored School, opened in
January 1866 under the direction of Freedman's Bureau field secretary
Rev. Cravath. The first ten faculty members were all missionaries from
the American Missionary Association. The original Fisk School faculty
members taught elementary coursework alongside religion and had
additional duties outside of teaching, including cooking, clothing
students, and facilities maintenance. The Library at Fisk holds a large
photographic collection that tells the rich history of the students,
faculty, and buildings of the institution.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers® originated as a group of traveling
students who went out in 1871 to raise funds to support the debt-ridden school. The
original group carried the entire contents of the school's treasury with them
to pay for their travel expenses with the goal to raise enough money to keep
Fisk's doors open. The singers were so successful that they continued to travel
throughout the U.S. and Europe popularizing the Negro spiritual and entertaining
audiences that included William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Ulysses S.
Grant, William Gladstone, Mark Twain, Johann Strauss, and Queen Victoria. The
contemporary Jubilee Singers still tour today. Each year, on October 6, Fisk
celebrates "Jubilee Day" in remembrance of the day that the original singers
left for their first tour. The Fisk library holds a large collection of
photographs and artifacts related to the singers and has created an exhibit
called, "Lord, I'm Out Here on Your Word: The Fisk Jubilee Singers® From Spirit to Spirit, 1871 - " The exhibit is on
display in the Special Collections department until the Spring of 2017.
Fisk Jubilee Singers 1871
The first faculty at Fisk School, 1866. All of the original faculty members were missionaries from the American Missionary Association and taught elementary coursework alongside religion.