J. H. Dillard with Unidentified African Americans

J. H. Dillard (1856–1940)

J. H. Dillard was an educator and reformer who, early in the twentieth century, became the best-known and most-active white proponents of improved educational opportunities for African Americans in the South. Born either in Southampton County or Nansemond County, he studied law before becoming a teacher. In 1894, he became a dean at Tulane University, in New Orleans. In 1908, he was elected president of the board of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation, established to help the education of African Americans in the South by paying teacher salaries and investing in buildings and equipment. He returned to Virginia in 1913, working for the Jeanes Fund and as the president of the John F. Slater Fund, which had a similar mission, until he resigned both positions in 1931. By this time, the South had 305 so-called Jeanes teachers in fourteen states, with Virginia claiming more teachers than any other state. Dillard engaged in other work on behalf of interracial cooperation, establishing the University Commission on Southern Race Questions in 1912. In 1930, two historically black universities in New Orleans combined to form Dillard University, named in his honor. Dillard died at his home in Charlottesville in 1940. MORE...

 

Early Years

James Hardy Dillard was born on October 24, 1856, either in Southampton County or in neighboring Nansemond County. He was the son of James Dillard, a Southampton County farmer, and Sarah Brownrigg Cross Dillard. His first cousin Hardy Cross became a noted civil engineer who developed a new method of analyzing complex structural frames. Dillard's education began at home, but at age twelve he went to live with an aunt in Norfolk in order to attend a classical school, where he studied Anglo-Saxon, German, Greek, and Latin. In 1873 he matriculated at Washington and Lee University, from which he received a master's degree in 1876. He taught mathematics there while studying for a law degree, which he received in 1877. Dillard had planned to return to Norfolk and practice law, but instead he began a career in education as the principal of the city's Rodman School. After five years he became one of two principals at the Norfolk Academy.

Dillard moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1887 to become the principal of Mary Institute, a female preparatory school for Washington University. Simultaneously he served as Bridge Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at the university and also taught Latin as part of the Sauveur Summer School, a language program held at various New England schools and colleges. In 1891 William Preston Johnston, a former mentor from Washington and Lee University then serving as president of Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, recruited Dillard to become professor of Latin. Three years later Dillard became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tulane, and he also served briefly in 1904 as acting president of the university.

With the Jeanes and Slater Funds

The creation in 1907 of the Negro Rural School Fund, Inc., Anna T. Jeanes Foundation, with a $1 million endowment from Anna T. Jeanes, of Philadelphia, changed Dillard's professional life. The foundation sought to improve the education of African Americans in the southern states by paying the salaries of teachers and also improving buildings and equipment. In February 1908 Dillard attended the first meeting of the foundation's board, which elected him president. The board's members included such other notable men as Hollis Burke Frissell, of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University); Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee Institute (later University); Robert Russa Moton, who succeeded Washington at Tuskegee; the industrialist Andrew Carnegie; the philanthropist George Foster Peabody; and William Howard Taft, who was elected U.S. president later that year.

Even though Dillard's family had been planters and had owned slaves, he had developed a dislike of the inequities and injustices that freedpeople experienced after the American Civil War (1861–1865). As a lifelong member and lay leader of the Episcopal Church, he came to believe that assisting African American education constituted part of his personal Christian ministry. In 1913 Dillard returned to Virginia and for the remainder of his career resided in Charlottesville. He became one of the best-known and most-active white proponents of improved educational opportunities for African Americans in the South.

As a result of his work at the Jeanes Fund, in April 1910 Dillard also became the general agent of the John F. Slater Fund, another foundation with a similar objective. Later that year he was elected to a vacant seat on that fund's board and also became the board's secretary. Dillard served as president beginning in 1917. The Jeanes and Slater funds focused on rural areas of the South and emphasized vocational, or industrial, education within the states' established systems of racially segregated public schools. Shortly after Dillard left the presidency, the Jeanes Foundation had funded teachers in 305 of the 1,415 counties in fourteen southern states. Virginia had more Jeanes teachers than any other state and had Jeanes teachers in a larger proportion of its counties than any of the other states. Dillard resigned as president both of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation and of the John F. Slater Fund in 1931, although he remained on their boards until 1937, when the two funds joined together as the Southern Education Foundation, Inc. He was a founding director of the new foundation and served on its board until his death.

Other Work

Dillard also sat on the Southern Education Board (1908–1914) and the General Education Board (1918–1929) and served as vice president (1923–1940) of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, which sought to improve educational opportunities for African Americans and encourage interracial cooperation. With his call for southern universities to take the lead in studying race relations, economics, education, and lynching in the South, he helped establish in 1912 the University Commission on Southern Race Questions. Dillard traveled to Africa in 1924 and also attended an international conference on Christian missions in Africa that met in Belgium in 1926. In recognition of his work Dillard received the Harmon Foundation's gold medal in 1928 for helping to increase the number of African American training schools and the Roosevelt Medal in 1937 for improving understanding between the races. He also received honorary doctorates from Washington and Lee in 1889, Tulane in 1908, the University of the South in 1910, Harvard University in 1923, and Southwestern at Memphis (later Rhodes College) in 1932.

Dillard served on the board of visitors of the College of William and Mary from 1918 to 1940 and on the board of the General Theological Seminary, in New York City, from 1916 to 1925. While living in New Orleans he headed the New Orleans Free Kindergarten Association and the New Orleans Public Library, and he served on the Louisiana State Board of Education. When in 1930 New Orleans University and Straight College, two colleges for African Americans, combined, the new institution was named Dillard University in his honor.

During his teaching career Dillard published several short textbooks and readers: Dillard's Exercises in Arithmetic (1885), Selections from Wordsworth (1890), Fifty Letters of Cicero (1901), and Aus dem deutschen Dichterwald: Favorite German Poems (1903). He also wrote From News Stand to Cyrano: Four Stray Pieces Mainly about Reading (1935) and contributed to Negro Migration in 1916–17 (1919). Dillard spoke widely on educational topics and published essays in many periodicals while engaged in work for the Jeanes and Slater funds, including in the Virginia Journal of Education.Some of his articles appeared in a collected edition, Selected Writings of James Hardy Dillard (1932), and others in Papers by the Way (1940).

In Norfolk on July 5, 1881, Dillard married Mary Catharine Harmanson. They had one son and five daughters before her death on September 20, 1896. Dillard married Avarene Lippincott Budd in Mount Holly, New Jersey, on November 18, 1899. Their two daughters and two sons included Hardy Cross Dillard, who became a distinguished law professor at the University of Virginia and judge of the International Court of Justice.

Dillard died at his Charlottesville home on August 2, 1940, and was buried in the city's Riverview Cemetery. One editorial tribute described him as "one of Virginia's most selfless servants and devoted humanitarians" and related that Booker T. Washington had once said that Dillard could speak "to the poorest Negro in Alabama in the same way that he speaks to President Taft."

Major Works

  • Dillard's Exercises in Arithmetic (1885)
  • Selections from Wordsworth (1890)
  • Fifty Letters of Cicero (1901)
  • Aus dem deutschen Dichterwald: Favorite German Poems (1903)
  • Negro Migration in 1916–17 (contributor; 1919)
  • Selected Writings of James Hardy Dillard (1932)
  • From News Stand to Cyrano: Four Stray Pieces Mainly about Reading (1935)
  • Papers by the Way (1940)
  • Time Line

    • October 24, 1856 - J. H. Dillard is born, either in Southampton County or Nansemond County.
    • 1868 - J. H. Dillard goes to live with an aunt in Norfolk in order to attend a classical school.
    • 1873–1876 - J. H. Dillard attends Washington and Lee University, receiving a master's degree.
    • 1877 - J. H. Dillard receives a law degree from Washington and Lee University.
    • July 5, 1881 - J. H. Dillard and Mary Catharine Harmanson marry in Norfolk.
    • 1882 - J. H. Dillard becomes one of two principals at the Norfolk Academy.
    • 1887 - J. H. Dillard becomes principal of Mary Institute, at Washington University, in Saint Louis, Missouri.
    • 1889 - J. H. Dillard receives an honorary doctorate from Washington and Lee University.
    • 1892 - J. H. Dillard becomes a professor of Latin at Tulane University, in New Orleans.
    • 1894 - J. H. Dillard becomes dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tulane University, in New Orleans.
    • September 20, 1896 - Mary Catharine Harmanson Dillard, the wife of J. H. Dillard, dies.
    • November 18, 1899 - J. H. Dillard and Avarene Lippincott Budd marry in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
    • 1904 - J. H. Dillard briefly serves as acting president of Tulane University, in New Orleans.
    • 1907 - The Negro Rural School Fund, Inc., Anna T. Jeanes Foundation is established with a $1 million endowment from Anna T. Jeanes, of Philadelphia.
    • 1908–1914 - J. H. Dillard serves on the Southern Education Board.
    • 1908 - J. H. Dillard receives an honorary doctorate from Tulane University, in New Orleans.
    • February 1908 - J. H. Dillard is elected president of the board of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation, which provides financial support for black rural schools in the South.
    • 1910 - J. H. Dillard receives an honorary doctorate from the University of the South.
    • April 1910 - J. H. Dillard becomes the general agent of the John F. Slater Fund, which supports African American education in the rural South.
    • 1912 - J. H. Dillard helps to establish the University Commission on Southern Race Questions.
    • 1913 - J. H. Dillard moves from New Orleans to Charlottesville, where he will live for the rest of his life.
    • 1916–1925 - J. H. Dillard serves on the board of the General Theological Seminary, in New York City.
    • 1917 - J. H. Dillard becomes president of the John F. Slater Fund, which supports African American education in the rural South.
    • 1918–1929 - J. H. Dillard serves on the General Education Board.
    • 1918–1940 - J. H. Dillard serves on the board of visitors of the College of William and Mary.
    • 1923–1940 - J. H. Dillard serves as vice president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, which seeks to improve educational opportunities for African Americans.
    • 1923 - J. H. Dillard receives an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.
    • 1924 - J. H. Dillard travels to Africa.
    • 1926 - J. H. Dillard attends in Belgium an international conference on Christian missions in Africa.
    • 1928 - J. H. Dillard receives the Harmon Foundation's gold medal in recognition for his work to help increase the number of African American training schools.
    • 1930 - New Orleans University and Straight College, two colleges for African Americans, combine to form Dillard University, named in honor of J. H. Dillard.
    • 1931 - J. H. Dillard resigns as president of the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation board and of the John F. Slater Fund.
    • 1932 - J. H. Dillard receives an honorary doctorate from Southwestern at Memphis (later Rhodes College).
    • 1937 - The Anna T. Jeanes Foundation and the John F. Slater Fund, which support African American education in the rural South, combine to form the Southern Education Foundation, Inc.
    • 1937 - J. H. Dillard receives the Roosevelt Medal for improving understanding between the races.
    • August 2, 1940 - J. H. Dillard dies at his home in Charlottesville. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery.

    References

    Further Reading
    Brawley, Benjamin Brawley. Doctor Dillard of the Jeanes Fund. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1930.
    Cite This Entry
    • APA Citation:

      Dictionary of Virginia Biography., & Castelow, T. L. J. H. Dillard (1856–1940). (2016, January 20). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Dillard_James_Hardy_1856-1940.

    • MLA Citation:

      Dictionary of Virginia Biography and Teri L. Castelow. "J. H. Dillard (1856–1940)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. READ_DATE.

    First published: October 28, 2015 | Last modified: January 20, 2016


    Contributed by the Dictionary of Virginia Biography and Teri L. Castelow.