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History of Wilberforce University: Our Connection

Wilberforce Is A Necessity

And now the question naturally arises, What shall become of Wilberforce? Shall it be numbered among the things that were? The answer is, Wilberforce must be revived, it must be rebuilt, it must be continued. It is a necessity to our connection and our race, and in view of the mighty changes in our condition, which God is bringing about at this time, more so now than ever before.

WOODSON, LEWIS, J. P. UNDERWOOD, and J. A. WARREN. 1865. "WILBERFORCE UNIVERSITY." Minutes Of The...Session Of The Ohio Annual Conference Of The African M.E. Church 26-27.


Wilberforce University is no stranger to adversity. This would be the case for any one-hundred and sixty-plus-year-old institution, but Wilberforce has proven itself to be exceptionally resilient. It has survived: indebtedness, a devastating arson attack, institutional fracturing (twice), the Civil War, Jim Crow, two world wars, high turnover of faculty, unsteady administrations, a catastrophic tornado, and an ongoing critique from naysayers who argue an institution of racial development is anachronistic and lacking a raison d'être in an era post-Reconstruction, post-Civil Rights, post-Affirmative Action, and post-Obama. Such is not the case. Wilberforce and the proud Wilberforceans she produces is not post-anything. So long as there are oppressors and oppressed, as long as unequal access to education remains, and so long as life remains imbued with dreams and aspirations, Wilberforce will remain a necessity.


This Research Guide was largely inspired by the coursework of students enrolled in the History of Wilberforce University (IDS 185) between 2011 and 2014. Led by long-standing archivist and alum Jacqueline Brown, this course was designed to connect students to the rich history and heritage that is Wilberforce University.

The Wilberforceans featured in this guide have contributed to the University’s legacy, whether as alumni, transfers, or faculty. When available, YouTube videos of scholarly or journalistic value were incorporated into their profiles, which have been arranged chronologically by year of birth. Photographs were sourced either from the Wilberforce University Archives, or the open web.

The interactive timeline and the special collections list are the unique contributions of librarian Warren Watson and archivist Ciana Ayenu, who curated and published this guide during their engagement in the Rembert E. Stoke Library and Information Commons during the fall of 2017.

Photos from Wilberforce University Arcvhies