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Feb 20th, 2018

From the Archives: William Penn Collection

In honor of Black History month, we wanted you to know about one of our newer collections.

The William Penn Collection is a digital collection of oral histories and photographs gathered by some of Dr. Ringel’s students together with high school students from Penn-Griffin School for the Arts. Penn-Griffin is located just a couple of block from the University and inhabits the buildings that once housed William Penn High School.

William Penn High School, 1966

William Penn High School was open to African American students in High Point from the 1890’s until it was closed in 1968. The school served not only as a place of education but also as a gathering point for the community. The photo (left) shows the high school in 1966.

Over the last two years Ringel’s students have created a webpage using photos, oral histories, and yearbooks belonging to former students. Smith Library has added the oral histories to our collection. Visit the William Penn Collection on our archives page to hear conversations with former students including Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney, one of the organizers of the February 11th Sit-In here in High Point at the Woolworth’s counter in 1960.

February 11, 1960 Sit-in. Photo Courtesy of the High Point Museum


Check out a few of the interviews:

Jerry Camp
Arlean Wilkes
Henry (Hank) Wall







Carlvena Foster
Murray Davis
Gwyn Davis







To find out more about the project visit William Penn Project. Many thanks to the William Penn Alumni group for participating in the project. They are an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic group and continue to be involved in the community.

To learn about the people behind the project, listen to the recent interview broadcast “The More Complete History of Civil Rights in High Point” from North Carolina Public Radio. We look forward to working with Dr. Ringel, his students and the alumni of William Penn High School as this collection grows.

-Blog post by Amy Ruhe, Technical Services Assistant.

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