Facebook Twitter

Donate to BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

6 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help in the Classroom

Wilberforce University (1856- )

 Wilberforce University
Wilberforce University, 1856
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Wilberforce University was established near Xenia, Ohio in 1856 as a joint venture between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Named after 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce, it was the first private, historically black university in the United States. It was built to support the abolitionist cause and to offer African Americans a college education. Many of its original students were the biracial children of Southern white slave owners.

Wilberforce University was forced to close temporarily in 1862, when a number of its patrons and students became involved in the American Civil War, supporting and joining the Union Army.

In 1863 the African Methodist Episcopal Church, through the efforts of Bishop Daniel A. Payne, acquired ownership of the university and reopened it as a private university.  Payne became the university’s first president and the first African American college president in the United States. During his thirteen years in the position, he assembled a diverse faculty to train students in teaching, theology, and the practice of law.

In 1887 the State of Ohio began to help fund Wilberforce University and established a combined normal and industrial department (which would later become the university’s sister school, Central State University). Because of state aid, the Theology Department became a separate institution, the Payne Theological Seminary.

Today Wilberforce is a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts university. It offers more than twenty degree programs and awards Bachelor of Arts, Science, and Master degrees. It is also one of only two four-year universities in the United States that includes a mandatory cooperative education program in its graduation requirements.  The college has experienced steady growth over the last several decades, and is a member of the United Negro College Fund, the NAIA athletic conference, and participates in the OhioLINK  library consortium.

Frederick McGinnis, A History And An Interpretation of Wilberforce University (Blanchester, Ohio: The Brown Publishing Co. 1941); “Wilberforce University,”; Wilberforce University Website,


University of Washington, Seattle

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - v3.0 NDCHost - California | | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.