Primary Source

Blocksom’s School, Sussex County, Delaware [Photograph]


These two photographs show before and after pictures of Blocksom's School in Sussex County in rural Delaware. The first photo (taken in 1917) shows the pupils standing outside the original one-room schoolhouse made of wood. In addition to an outhouse and heat provided by a pot-bellied stove, which the older boys had to start every morning and keep burning during the school day, there is no running water. All of the classes, from primary to 8th grade, shared the same teacher and the same space. The second photograph (taken in 1925) shows a new and much larger Blocksom's School, made of brick, with indoor toilet, multiple classrooms, and heating. The new school was built with funds donated by Pierre S. du Pont, President of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and General Motors in the 1920s, who spearheaded an effort to improve and modernize education in Delaware, particularly for African Americans. He found the state in 1911 spending only about $400 per year on education of white children, and half that for African Americans. To build public support for his cause, du Pont funded and published surveys of Delaware's schools through Columbia University's Bank Street Teacher's College that showed the poor state of the state public education system. After attempting to achieve his goals through state government, he decided to fund and oversee the construction himself, committing over $6 million to build modern schools, among which were 89 schools for African Americans.


A Separate Place: the Schools P.S. DuPont Built (Wilmington, DE: Hagley Museum and Library, 2003) at, page 29. (accessed April 21, 2009). Hagley Museum and Library.

How to Cite This Source

"Blocksom’s School, Sussex County, Delaware [Photograph]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #236, (accessed December 4, 2021). Annotated by Kelly Schrum and Susan Douglass