“To Emancipate the Mind and Soul: Storer College, 1867-1955” (Harpers Ferry, WV: Harpers Ferry Park Association, 2017). $14.95 softcover, www.harpersferryhistory.org
While historians have penned much about various aspects of the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War era, one area that remains lacking is the conflict’s impact on African Americans and how, in the conflict’s aftermath, former slaves tried to realize the full promise of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. “To Emancipate the Mind and Soul: Storer College” is a welcome addition for those seeking a fuller understanding of our nation’s defining moment.
Founded in 1867 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Storer College was a place, during its 88-year existence, that provided African Americans an opportunity to gain access to that one thing that so many African Americans realized would aid them in their quest to realize true freedom—education.
This 25-chapter volume offers not only a history of Storer College, but an examination of important figures such as Rev. N.C. Brackett (arguably the most influential figure in education in the war’s aftermath in the region), John Storer and J.R. Clifford. This richly illustrated volume also offers insights into the institution’s many teachers, students and efforts to preserve the college’s rich history by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Well-written, cogently organized and reasonably priced, this volume will have wide appeal to those interested in the efforts of African Americans to realize emancipation’s promise in the decades following the Civil War.