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Kansas Industrial and Educational Institute

Topeka, Kansas







Sherrita Camp’s African American Topeka has photos and descriptions of Kansas Industrial and Educational Institute.  HathiTrust has the Biennial Reports from the school from 1920 to 1936. These also contain numerous photos. A good short history of K.I. E.I comes from The Kansas City Sun did some coverage of the school.


Kansas Industrial and Educational Institute was founded by Edward Stephens and Lizzie Riddick in 1895.  Called the “Western Tuskegee,” it received the support of Booker T. Washington, the black community of Topeka, and the state of Kansas, ultimately becoming a state school.  Like Tuskegee, it emphasized vocational education as a way to raise the welfare of Blacks.  While most students pursued a literary education, all had to receive training in an industrial field. 


The 1928 Biennial Report shows nine faculty teaching the usual academic subjects—including Latin.  In addition, ten faculty taught industrial subjects.  These included poultry, carpentry, domestic science, agriculture, plumbing, auto mechanics, nursing, domestic arts, tailoring, and shoe repair. The report notes the value of these subjects in keeping the school open. Students in the vocational classes provided much of the food, the upkeep of buildings and vehicles, the making and repair of uniforms, the health care of students, and the care of clothing and bedding.


That 1928 report shows a student body of 200.  Sixty of these were from out of state—30 from Oklahoma.  Most were high school students, but that report shows that 13 students were doing classwork beyond that level; the 1936 report shows that 48 students were enrolled in the junior college.  


K.I.E.I. was very strong in music with choirs and various quartets pictured.  The school had a band, but the 1928 report noted that it had only six working instruments.  Central Bible Theological Seminary provided religious instruction, and students had chapters of the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A.   The 1922 report states that the U.S. Army had transferred an officer from the 24th infantry to head the school’s R.O.T.C. program.


Because many people perceived Kansas Industrial and Education Institute as a reformatory, its name was changed to Kansas Vocational School in 1923 and to Kansas Technical Institute in 1951.  After the passage of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1955, the Kansas legislature closed the school.


    (Left) A group of student nurses from the Kansas Vocation School.  Image from the 1934 Biennial Report.                     ;view=1up;seq=170  (Right) The 1919 Institute Quartet.                          Image ftrom the Kansas City Sun                                  1/seq-3/

Bricks and Mortar

After three locations inside Topeka, K.I.E.I. was able to purchase a 110-acre farm east of Topeka in 1903.  There they built a campus of six main buildings.  Students from the carpentry and building department did much of the construction work.  The buildings were constructed of native limestone, quarried by students at a site nearby.  The J.B. Larimer Hall, a three-story dormitory built in 1907, housed 125 females; the matching Howland Hall housed male students.  All the industrial departments for males were located in the McMullen Trades Building; corresponding female departments were housed in the Girls' Trade Building.  Nursing classes were held in the Nellie Johns Hospital, a thirty-bed, on-campus building.  


After the school closed, the campus became the site for a new state correctional facility for females.


Bradford Miller Hall contained offices, the literary classrooms, the library, the auditorium, and the music department.  Image from the 1932 Biennial Report;view=1up;seq=165

The 1934 MVIAA champions.  Image from the Biennial Report.;view=1up;seq=186


      Team name: Buffaloes

        School Colors: Purple and gold


The K.I.E.I. Boys played football and basketball.  The school was a member of the Missouri Valley Interscholastic Athletic Association along with the other Black colleges and high schools in Kansas and Missouri. The Buffaloes won the conference championship in football in 1932 and 1934, and in basketball in 1930.  The track team won the Class B division of the Kansas Relays in 1932.


Western University was a yearly football opponent as was Langston University and Sumner High School. At a time when white schools were unwilling to play against Blacks, K.I.E.I. also played military units from Fort Riley and area athletic clubs.  


The bulletin also shows an image of a girls’ basketball team. 

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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