Lucy Craft Laney

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Lucy Craft Laney
Lucy Craft Laney.jpg
Born (1854-04-13)April 13, 1854
Macon, Georgia, United States
Died October 24, 1933(1933-10-24) (aged 79)
Residence 1116 Phillip Street, Augusta, Georgia
Education Atlanta University
University of Chicago
Lincoln University
South Carolina State College
Alma mater Atlanta University
Occupation Principal
Years active 1886-1933
Employer Haines Normal and Industrial School
Known for Principal and Founder of Haines Normal and Industrial School, Augusta, Georgia
Political party Republican
Religion Presbyterian

Lucy Craft Laney (April 13, 1854 – October 24, 1933) was an early African-American educator who in 1883 founded the first school for black children in Augusta, Georgia. She was principal of the Haines Institute for Industrial and Normal Education for 50 years. Lucy Craft Laney was selected by Governor Jimmy Carter in 1974 to be one of the first African Americans to have their portraits hung in the Georgia State Capitol.

Early life[edit]

Born April 13, 1854 in Macon, Georgia, Lucy Craft Laney grew up in a society still by slavery. Born eleven years before the end of slavery, Lucy was the seventh of ten children born to Louisa and David Laney. Her parents were both former slaves, but her father had saved enough money to buy his freedom and that of his wife years before. Both of her parents were strong believers in education and were very giving to strangers; this upbringing would strongly influence Laney in her life. At the time of her birth it was illegal for blacks to read; however with the assistance of Ms. Campbell, the slave owner’s sister, she learned to read at age four. She attended a mission school run by the AMA. In 1869 she entered Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), where she prepared to be a teacher.[1]

Teaching career[edit]

Laney worked as a teacher in Macon, Milledgeville and Savannah, Georgia for ten years before deciding to open a school of her own.[2] Due to health reasons, she settled in Augusta, Georgia and founded the first school for black children. Her first class in 1883 was six children but Laney attracted interest in the community and, by the end of the second year, the school had 234 students.

With the increase in students, she needed more funding for her operation. She attended the northern Presbyterian Church Convention in 1886 in Minneapolis and pleaded her case there, but was turned down initially. One of the attendees, Francine E.H. Haines, later declared an interest in and donated $10,000 to Laney for the school. With this money, Laney expanded her offerings. She changed the school's name to The Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in honor of her benefactor and to indicate its goals of industrial and teacher training.

The school eventually grew to encompass an entire city block of buildings. By 1928, the school's enrollment was over 800 students.[2]

Laney also opened the first black kindergarten and the first black nursing school in Augusta. .

Death and legacy[edit]

Lucy Craft Laney died on October 24, 1933, and is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Augusta.[2][3]

Lucy Laney Elementary School in Harris County was named for her.[4] Lucy Craft Laney High School is also named for her.


  1. ^ Leslie, Kent Anderson. "Lucy Craft Laney". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Yenser, Thomas, ed. (1933). Who's Who in Colored America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Persons of African Descent in America 1930-1931-1932 (Third ed.). Brooklyn, New York: Who's Who in Colored America. 
  3. ^ Lucy Craft Laney at Find a Grave
  4. ^ Seibert, David. "Lucy Laney Elementary School". GeorgiaInfo: an Online Georgia Almanac. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 

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