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New Orleans University

New Orleans, Louisiana

1869-1930 (1934)


Internet Archive now has digital catalogues from the 1870’s up into the 1920’s.  A recent addition is the 1928 Tiger yearbook.  Some details of the merger with Straight College are found in articles from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.


Union Normal School, founded by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the United Methodist Episcopal Church, opened in 1869.  This and Thompson Biblical Institute were absorbed by New Orleans University after it was chartered in 1873.  The 1877-78 catalogue shows 143 students--33 in the classical program, 103 irregulars, 14 in theology, 10 in music, and 8 in medical school. Some of the classical students were in the preparatory program.    


Over the next fifty years New Orleans University “ministered to the educational, social, and religious needs of the Negroes of Louisiana.” In doing so it underwent numerous transformations.  Tiger suggests that the shift in emphasis was from elementary to high school to collegiate education.   At various times N.O.U. had under its aegis the Gilbert Normal Academy at Baldwin, Flint Medical School, People’s Normal and Industrial School at Lake Charles, Gilbert Haven School of Theology; Live Oak School at Baton Rouge, Mansfield Academy at Mansfield, La Harpe Street Academy,  and Corporation Graded School at Thibodaux. 





1907 College Prep graduating class  (<>)

accessed 10-14-2017.

Advertising a “wholesome religious influence,” N.O.U. had daily chapel and weekly religious services as well as active chapters of Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A.  The Department of Music fostered choral groups and a school orchestra.  The school had an intercollegiate debate team and competed in oratorical contests.


By 1928 N.O.U. consisted of a graduate school leading to an M.A. degree; a Liberal Arts College leading to a B.A. degree;  a two-year Teachers Course leading to a life certificate; the Flint-Goodridge Nurse Training School, Gilbert Academy;  Peck School of Domestic Arts; and Commercial, Music, and Art Departments.  Listed enrollment in 1930 was 728—432 at collegiate level.


On February 8, 1929 the Times-Picyune noted a possible merger between New Orleans University and Straight College to create “a single, high grade, standard university for the negroes of New Orleans and the vicinity.”  On June 6, 1930 the merger was effected.  However, it was not until 1934 that Dillard University was actually created. 

Bricks and Mortar

The physical address of New Orleans University was 5318 St. Charles Avenue, described as “one of the most beautiful sections of the city.”  The Main Building, finished in 1889 at a cost of $100,000 was a five-story brick structure with more than 150 feet of frontage.  In addition to the dining hall, chapel, library, and society rooms, it contained rooms for 150 boarding students.


The Flint Medical School was located at the corner of Canal and Robertson Streets with the Sarah Goodridge Hospital adjoining.


After the merger, Gilbert Academy continued on the N.O.U. campus until 1949 as a private high school.  At some point the building was razed to make way for De La Salle High School.









         Team name; Tigers

         Colors: Blue and Gold (earlier Tan and                                  Blue)


By 1928 N.O.U. were members of the Gulf Coast Conference, and were champions in both football and basketball.  The 1927 team defeated Leland, Jackson, Xavier, Arkansas Baptist and Haven Academy and were held to draws with Straight and Alcorn.  The undefeated Tigers gave up only six points all season. 


The 1927-28 basketball Tigers won six of seven games played and so were acclaimed conference champions. 


New Orleans University played baseball well.  The 1915 catalog notes that the team had not lost for four year, and were champions of the state for three consecutive years.


The 1928 Tiger states that intercollegiate sport for women was “still in its infancy.”  However a basketball team played four games against Xavier and Straight, winning all four.


Sketch of the Main Building of New Orleans University.  The President’s House is to the left. (<>) accessed 10-14-2017

1927 Gulf Coast Champions.  Image from the 1928 Tiger.  


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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