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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Tuskegee Institute Collection

Shoes made from braided corn husk with leather soles, c1910, Tuskegee, Alabama.
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

Braided corn husk mat, c1910,
Tuskegee, Alabama.
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

Pine needle basket, c1910,
Tuskegge, Alabama.
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

MSU Museum has a small collection of items made by students at The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, one of more than a hundred "historically black colleges and universities" founded after the emancipation and Civil War. The collection includes several mats, a picture frame, a hat and a pair of shoes all made from woven corn husk, a splint basket, and pine needle basket and a chair with a braided corn husk seat. Students at Tuskegee regularly made items for sale to supplement their incomes. The items in the collection were made around 1910.

The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, was founded in a one-room shack in Tuskegee, Alabama on July 4, 1881. Lewis Adams, a former enslaved tinsmith and community leader played a major role in organizing the school for African-American students. The Institute was designed to provide academic courses in combination with an industrial and vocational curriculum that included agricultural and trades programs for boys, and home economics study for girls. Booker T. Washington was the first teacher hired at Tuskegee Institute and became president of the Institute. In 1985, the Institute became Tuskegee University.

This collection is part of the Michigan State University Museum's African, African-American, and African Diaspora Art and Cultural History Collections.

Related Collections:
African and African-America Diasporic Collections

Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery, October 2006 - March 4, 2007, MSU Museum.

---compiled by Lynne Swanson and Marsha MacDowell

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© 2006 Michigan State University, all rights reserved