New Library Archive Reveals a Beloved School and its Family
November 13, 2020 — John Thomas “Be-Bop” Brown learned to play the saxophone there. Ada Fulbright taught young minds there for 55 years. Kansas City Monarchs’ Herman “Doc” Horn, Jr. graduated from there, and reminisced, “Lincoln High School was the cornerstone for every African-American that hit this town.”
Now, images of the people and stories of the Black lives that flourished at Springfield’s Lincoln Schools are together in a digital collection hosted by the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
The Lincoln School Collection is Springfield’s newest digital collection available at thelibrary.org/lochist.
Materials in the collection were contributed by private individuals, the History Museum on the Square, Missouri State University's Special Collections and University Archives, and the library district. The Library also partnered with Drury University, Greene County Archives, Minorities in Business, Springfield Public Schools and Unite. NewsOnline to help develop and guide the project.
“One of the charges for Local History is to help preserve the history and culture of the Ozarks,” said Brian Grubbs, manager of the library district’s Local History and Genealogy Department. The initial work began on the project in 2017, he said. “We wanted to tell a piece of the history of Springfield’s Black community through the lens of Lincoln School.”
More than a school, Lincoln also served as a community center and a branch of the public library for Blacks. The library desegregated in January 1947, but the Lincoln Branch Library continued to operate until the school closed.
The collection includes photos and documents from Springfield’s history: a 1925 Boy Scouts of America Troop Charter for Troop #35 at Lincoln School; a photo of the 1922 Boy’s Glee Club; a photo of Homer Boyd in his marching band uniform outside of the school – the same Homer Boyd who rose to fame with fellow singers as The Philharmonics. There are photos of Lincoln’s basketball teams, bands and orchestras, graduating classes, beloved teachers, proms and plays.
The collection consists of materials focusing on students from the two Lincoln Schools, but also includes materials related to Springfield's earlier Black schools. The last one operated from 1931 into 1955.
The Local History staff will continue adding more materials to the collection, Brian said. “If there are other individuals in the community that have photographs, documents or other materials they would like to share with us, we’d be glad to scan or photograph them and add to this collection to tell their story, as well.”
For more information call Brian Grubbs at 417-616-0544.