Edward L. Blackshear served as principal of the school, then known as Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College, from 1897 to 1915. Blackshear was born in Montgomery, Alabama on September 8, 1863, the son of Abram and Adline Blackshear. He attended Swayne High School in Montgomery. He attended A.B. Tabor College in 1881 and received his LL. D from Wilberforce University. He married Rachel Verta Works of Austin, Texas on March 12, 1891 and had three children: William, Roosevelt, and Eddie L. He began teaching in Texas in 1882 and was the principal of the Colored High School, Austin from 1883 to 1896. He became principal at Prairie View in 1896. A Republican, he was a public speaker and writer on educational work and racial subjects. He was a Baptist, Mason, and member of Odd Fellows Knights of Pythias. Blackshear belonged to the Fellow American Association for Advancement of Science and was a member of the Negro National Education Congress. He is the author of Education of Childhood.