Tag Archives: Harriman Industrial School

The East Tennessee Normal and Industrial Institute

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

The East Tennessee Normal and Industrial Institute was organized in August 1898 in Harriman, under the name of Harriman Industrial School. It was created “for the training of Colored… Young Men and Women.” Started by John W. Ovletrea, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, he had hoped to establish a school in Harriman along the lines of Tuskegee. In the 1902 Harriman Industrial Supplement, its mission was described as “to prepare colored young men and women for practical usefulness by giving each one who enters and remains a sufficient time a knowledge of some useful trade, in connection with a thorough English education thereby teaching the dignity of labor and enabling each to help himself by becoming a useful citizen; to so correlate industrial with literary education that the student cannot get the one without the other. The demand for intelligent and competent education is far greater than the supply. The man who can do something is the man sought after. It is the aim of the school to send young men and women out into the world who can produce as well as consume.” A farm was purchased for $1,000, $500 of which was due up front while the remainder was to be paid over time. On this farm was the home of William Barnett, a former slave owner, and this home became the first main building. It was used as the boys’ dormitory and for industrial development. Later a domestic science building was constructed along with an assembly hall called the Jamieson Central Assembly Hall. The entrance fee was $1.50 while the board per month (which included furnished room, laundry, lights, fuel, etc.) was $8.00. Students were given an opportunity to work out $2 or $3 of the expenses per month, leaving only $5 or $6 to be paid in cash. With a good outfit of clothing, $45 or $50 was sufficient cash to carry an industrious student through the nine-month school year. All students were required to work one day a week and every other Saturday. Unfortunately, the school ended up in debt and was closed about 1911 or 1912.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, January 2017.