Institute for Colored Youth

Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University)

Established on February 25, 1837, it is the oldest institution of higher learning for African Americans.

Former School Address:  915 Bainbridge Street


One of the first high schools to prepare black youth for skilled trades and teaching, the Institute for Colored Youth would later evolve into Cheyney University. The institute's predecessor was a farm school on the outskirts of Philadelphia that was established in 1832 with bequests from two Quakers: $10,000 from Richard Humphrey, and $18,000 from Jonathan Zane. Shortly after opening, students — all young males — rebelled because of stringent rules and the farm labor required of them. The school closed and the farm was sold. Twenty years later, in 1852, a new school the Institute for Colored Youth, was built and gained an excellent reputation thanks to Mrs. Fanny Jackson Coppin, who served as principal from 1869 to 1900. In 1902, the school was relocated to Cheyney, Pennsylvania, and ultimately became a state teachers college and then a state university.

(From: Blockson, Charles L. Philadelphia's Guide: African-American State Historical Markers. Philadelphia: Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection / William Penn Foundation, 1992.)