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Shaw University

Shaw University, founded as Raleigh Institute, is a private liberal arts institution and historically black university in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. Founded in 1865, it is the oldest HBCU in the Southern United States.


118 East South Street
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Additional Information

College Type
Religious Affiliation
Baptist Church
Campus Housing
Mission Statement
Shaw University exists to advance knowledge, facilitate student learning and achievement, to enhance the spiritual and ethical values of its students, and to transform a diverse community of learners into future global leaders.
White Garnet
Central Intercollegiate

College History


The school was founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Henry Martin Tupper came south immediately after the end of the Civil War, establishing the Second Baptist Church of Raleigh (changed to Tabernacle Baptist Church in 1910, and now the Tupper Memorial Baptist Church.) Later Tupper and his Bible study students constructed a two-story church, with one story for the church, and one for the Raleigh Institute, where he taught freedmen. By 1915, supported by the American Baptist Home Mission, the school had 291 students, evenly divided between men and women. In 1867 the school consisted of three buildings, two of which were Antebellum cabins. As of 1875 when Shaw Collegiate Institute became Shaw University only two major structures existed � The Shaw Building and Estey Seminary. The former, erected where once stood corn fields in which Tupper hid from lynch mobs, with a 165 foot frontage, four stories high and possessing a tower, was the most commodious school building in all of North Carolina at that time. It provided instruction services, a library, and lodging. The seminary, reputed to be the first building ever erected for the education of African-American females, was devoted to training women in cooking, sewing, music, and the like. Henry Martin Tupper bought the material from which the women made garments and he himself sold the garments in an effort to pay for the cost of the material and other expenses. In 1879, a third major building was erected � a chapel and dining hall called the Greenleaf Building. It was named for O.H. Greenleaf of Springfield, MA, a yearly liberal contributor. The upper part of the building was accessible by stairs. Doors on either side of the tower provided entrance to the dining room. At the right of the chapel was a small room and at the left a library. A storeroom existed under the stairway. Funds saved from the school were used to build this structure. These were augmented by contributions of $650 (15,116.28 in today�s time) from O.H. Greenleaf, Captain Ebenezer Morgan, and Deacon O.B. Grant of Stonington. Henry Martin Tupper, first president of Shaw University It was renamed Shaw Collegiate Institute after Elijah Shaw, benefactor of Shaw Hall, the first building. In 1875, it became Shaw University. In 1873, Estey Hall was built, the first female dormitory in the U.S. on a coeducational campus. In 1866 when the Raleigh Institute was first being developed, Tupper had hoped to open a medical school; in 1881 the medical building became a reality, $15,000 (220,588.24 in today�s time) was contributed to make it. The medical school complex consisted primarily of three structures � a four story medical dormitory built to accommodate 75 men and erected around 1880 when the trustees approved the establishment of a medical department; the Leonard Medical Building, erected in the summer and fall of 1881 and containing lecture rooms, dissecting rooms, an amphitheater, and opened for its� first session on November 1st, 1881; a 25 bed hospital which opened for the reception of patients on January 10th, 1885. The Law School was founded in December 11, 1888 during a Board of Trustees� meeting in New York. This would be the only Law School for coloreds from Washington to Texas or any portion of the South. The school graduated fifty-four students before closing in 1914. Leonard Medical School was founded in 1881 as the first four-year medical school in the South to train black doctors and pharmacists. The first medical school in the state to offer a four-year curriculum, it operated until 1918. Given their importance in United States educational history, both Estey and Leonard halls have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An ad for Shaw University from 1900, placed in a black-owned newspaper in Minnesota. By 1900, more than 30,000 black teachers had been trained.

College Specialty


Shaw University exists to advance knowledge, facilitate student learning and achievement, to enhance the spiritual and ethical values of its students, and to transform a diverse community of learners into future global leaders.



Gladys Knight 1966 Singer, Gladys Knight & the Pips, received Honorary Doctorate Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., D.D. 1934 Congressman from New York, 1945�71 Richard Gene Arno Founder of the National Christian Counselors Association James B. Dudley 1881 Professor; President of NC A&T (1896�1925) Edward A. Johnson 1891 First African-American member of the New York state legislature Ezekiel Ezra Smith 1880 U.S. Ambassador to Liberia (1888�1890) and President of Fayetteville State. Lenard Moore 1980 First African American President of the Haiku Society of America Ella Baker 1927 Leader of SNCC and civil rights activist Charlie Brandon 1967 Grey Cup champion and all-star CFL football player Edward C. Dolby 1966 Former Carolinas President, Bank of America Angie Brooks 1949 Former President of the United Nations General Assembly and Associate Justice to the National Supreme Court of Liberia Shirley Caesar 1984 Pastor and gospel music artist Henry Plummer Cheatham 1883 Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1889 to 1893. James E. Cheek 1955 Former President of Shaw University, President Emeritus of Howard University, 1983 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Willie E. Gary 1971 Multi-millionaire attorney and co-founder of the Black Family Channel Edward A. Johnson 1882 First African-American member of the New York state legislature when he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1917. Lee Johnson 1975 President & CEO of Mechanics & Farmers Bank Lords of the Underground Attended Hip-Hop Group that was founded in the early 1990s, when all three of its members were students attending Shaw University Luther Jordan 1997 Former member of the North Carolina Senate from 1993 to 2002 Vernon Malone 1953 Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly, 14th Senate district, including constituents in Wake County Lee Monroe 1970 Former President of Voorhees College Peter Wedderick Moore 1887 First President and Founder of Elizabeth City Normal College, (now Elizabeth City State University) John O. Crosby 1914 First President & Founder of North Carolina A&T Shelia P. Moses 1983 Best selling author, nominated for the National Book Award & NAACP Image Award Ronald "Flip" Murray 2002 Professional basketball player Eleanor Nunn, Ph.D. Civil rights activist (one of founders of SNCC) and educator, North Carolina State University William L. Pollard 1967 President of the Medgar Evers College (2009�2013) M. T. Pope 1886 Prominent physician in Raleigh; ran for mayor in 1919. His home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a museum Benjamin Arthur Quarles 1931 Historian, administrator, scholar, educator, and writer. James E. Shepard 1894 Founder and President of North Carolina Central University William Gaston Pearson 1886 Educator and businessman, co-founder of Mechanics & Farmers Bank, an African-American Bank in Raleigh, North Carolina Ida Van Smith 1939 One of the first African American female pilots and flight instructors in the United States Edawn Coughman 2010 Offensive Lineman and OT for the Buffalo Bills James "Bonecrusher" Smith 1975 First heavyweight boxing champion with a college degree Rita Walters 1952 Currently serves on the Board of Library Commissioners for the Los Angeles Public Library Lucius Walker 1954 Baptist minister best known for his opposition to the United States embargo against Cuba [20] Col. James H. Young 1882 First African American to hold the rank of colonel in the United States of the volunteer regiment during the Spanish American War Max Yergan 1914 Civil Rights activist; Spingarn Medal recipient Angie Brooks 1950 The only African female President of the United Nations General Assembly Glenford Eckleton Mitchell 1960 Member of Universal House of Justice (1982�2008)