Lisa A. Hohl

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Barry R. Westin

Second Advisor

Dr. Ernest C. Bolt, Jr.

Third Advisor

Elisabeth E. Wray


When the Supreme Court ordered integration of public schools in 1954 following Brown vs. Board of Education, Virginia responded with a policy of "massive resistance." Public schools were closed in Prince Edward County between 1959 and 1964. This thesis examines the school closings themselves, but concentrates primarily on the creation, implementation, and effect of the Prince Edward County Free School Association, a privately funded school system that operated during the 1963-1964 school year. Initiated by the Kennedy Administration as a one-year, emergency program, the Free Schools were designed to reestablish formal education for the county's black children. This thesis relied primarily upon the uncataloged Free School papers, personal interviews and documents from the John F. Kennedy Library. It concluded that the Free Schools were beneficial to the children in regaining lost educational skills, but played an extremely small role in the overall school closings issue.

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