Primary Source

History of Howard High School, Wilmington, Delaware


The only high school for African Americans in Delaware, Howard High School's original small, five-room building, was built shortly after the Civil War. In the early 1870s, Edwina B. Kruse became the first African American principal of the school. She served until 1920, introducing a classical curriculum and cultural activities, and recruiting prominent, talented African Americans as teachers. In 1928, Pierre S. du Pont donated money to replace the original building with a large, modern school. This interview describes the significance of the school to the African American community, both locally and nationally, as well as its growth after completion of the new building. Famous African Americans, such as historian W.E.B. DuBois and singer Marian Anderson, came to this "pillar of the African American community" as guest speakers.

Pierre S. du Pont, President of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and General Motors in the 1920s, spearheaded modernization of the education system for African Americans in Delaware in a time of segregation and severe discrimination. Du Pont drew attention to the problem of inadequate education by funding school surveys, supporting reform legislation, and ultimately by donating over $6 million of his own money to build new, state-of-the-art schools. Howard High School was beautiful, spacious, and well-equipped. It housed regular classrooms and vocational training facilities, in addition to a library and an auditorium. Howard continues its legacy today as a specialized technical school for all Wilmington students.


A Separate Place: the Schools P.S. Du Pont Built DVD (Wilmington, DE: Hagley Museum and Library, 2003): 11:00 to 12:43. Copies available from the Hagley Museum and Library or 302-658-2400. See also A Separate Place teaching packet and A Brief History of Howard.

How to Cite This Source

"History of Howard High School, Wilmington, Delaware," in World History Commons, [accessed February 22, 2024]