New Orleans and Baker, Louisiana
Internet Archive now contains digital copies of Leland University bulletins from 1897 through 1914 provided by the University of Illinois. John Brown Watson, a graduate of Brown University, served as president of Leland College, so that school has a Leland College collection. Era of Progress and Promise provides a two-page history of the college to 1908.
Leland College was founded in New Orleans by Holbrook Chamberlain in conjunction with the American Baptist Home Mission Society. The Brooklyn-born Chamberlain named the college for his father-in-law. Its purpose was to prepare blacks for the ministry, to train teachers for black classrooms, to train mechanics for the trades, and to prepare young men and women to discharge the responsibilities of life. The 1899-1900 catalog shows a school of more than 700 students at five locations. These include 10 college/graduate students, 13 ministerial students, 38 normal/college preparatory students (high school juniors and seniors), and 647 sub-normal (elementary/junior high school) students at New Iberia, New Orleans, Donaldsville, Monroe, and Ruston.
Bricks and Mortar
In 1870 Chamberlain began classes in the basement of Tulane Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. Later he created a 10-acre campus on St. Charles Avenue, contained two major buildings—University Hall, which housed classrooms in addition to dormitory space for male teachers and students, and Chamberlain Hall, which housed the president as well as the female students and teachers.
The storm-damaged buildings in New Orleans were quickly razed for real estate development. By 1930 the Baker campus consisted of a brick administration building, two brick dormitories, a frame classroom building, the president’s house, a professors’ cottage, and a number of farm buildings. In 1982 the remains of the Baker campus were placed on the National Register. At that time parts of only four buildings were left, but the committee felt that the importance of the campus merited placing it on the Register.
(Above) University Hall at New Orleans (<archive.org/details/bulletin189798191011lela>) accessed 11-11-2017
Team name: Bulldogs
Colors: Blue and Gold
Hall of Fame Grambling coach Eddie Robinson quarterbacked Leland to a South Central Athletic Conference championship in 1938 and a runner-up finish in 1940. But overall Leland experienced only modest success in football. From 1926 through 1959, the team won 56, lost 67 and tied 11. Through the years their most consistent opponents were Alcorn A&M, Tougaloo, and Rust—all Mississippi schools. Bishop (Texas), Mississippi Vocational, along with neighboring Southern and Dillard also often appeared on the Leland schedule.
The 1958 team went 4-4-1 (1-2 conference) with wins over Tougaloo, Jarvis Christian (TX), Rust, and Butler (TX). They drew with Coahoma (MS), losing to Philander Smith (AR), Paul Quinn (TX), Mississippi Valley State, and Bishop.
1925 graduating class of Leland College. (Brown Digital Repository <repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:64582/>) accessed 11-11-2017
By 1908 the total enrollment had grown to 1975 at ten locations. By this time, a night school had been added as well as classes for the training of Christian women in church and Sunday school work. Primarily a black school, Leland was open to students of all races. Initially, the administration and faculty were largely white.
Like most college prep and college curricula of the time, that of Leland consisted almost entirely of required classes in Latin, Greek, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, rhetoric, literature, and history.
The catalog notes that the school provided chapters of the Philomathean Literary Society and the National Society of Christian Endeavor. At the 1950 Alumni meeting some of the entertainment was provided by the “Leland College Chorus,” which was described as all students who were members of a musical group while in college.
After the 1915 hurricane in New Orleans, school buildings were damaged beyond repair. Unable to settle in Alexandria because of white protests, Leland purchased property in Baker, north of Baton Rouge. There it had a 240-acre campus—enough property to institute agriculture and domestic programs to accompany the liberal arts/normal focus of the curriculum. Beginning at Baker in 1923, Leland remained there until it closed in 1960.