Welcome to Ballard Normal School : Student Life in the 1930s

Welcome; this exhibit explores life for African American students at a private school in 1930s Macon, Georgia.  We hope this exhibit will pique your interest in local history and make you want to explore more using the Digital Library of Georgia, your local library, archives and historical societies. 

In 1770, the colony of Georgia passed a law that prohibited teaching enslaved African Americans. Eventually cities would follow suite with their own ordinances. Even with these decrees, Savannah is known to have had clandestine schools that taught African Americans, both free and enslaved, and were considered an open secret. It is not known if there were any organized efforts to teach African Americans in Macon prior to the Civil War.

An integral part of African American education in Macon-Bibb County and Georgia, Lewis High/Ballard Normal existed from 1866 to 1942.  A constant topic of research projects, most of the research focuses on the school's connection to the American Missionary Association (AMA).

This exhibit examines a seldom researched segment of the African American school: student life.  We will examine the programs and activities that Ballard Normal School principal Mr. Raymond G. Von Tobel put in place starting in the 1920s and continued until the school closed in 1942.