The Dunbar Echo
Dunbar High School opened in 1923 at 545 North Upper Street as the only all-black high school in Lexington’s city school system. The school was named after African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), whose parents had been enslaved in Kentucky. Dunbar was a source of immense pride for many in Lexington; it was ambitious in academics, formidable in athletics, a meeting place for community organizations, and the first of only eight black high schools to ever be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In 1967, after federal pressure to racially integrate schools, the Fayette County board of education decided to close Dunbar High School. This elicted a substantial outcry from many black Lexingtonians, who saw Dunbar as a community cornerstone, and whose children would be bused longer distances to school. In 1968, the school board promised that the next high school opened in Fayette County would also be Dunbar, which then opened in 1990. After the original closed in 1967, the old Dunbar building remained in use for several years as a junior high school. Most of the building was razed in 1974; what remains of it has been converted into the Dunbar Community Center.
The Dunbar Echo became the student publication, coming out a few times each year. The Lexington Public Library holdings contain the yearbook editions of the publication, which contains information about students, alumni, faculty and teachers, sports, essays, student activities, attendance, budget, and Echo sponsors. There are also black and white photos of some of the students and faculty.
- Carpenter, Siona. “New Era Dawns at Dunbar.” Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, KY), Dec. 18, 1989.
- Carpenter, Siona. “New Dunbar: Honoring Poet or Avoiding Past?” Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, KY), Jan. 24, 1990.
- “Dunbar (Paul Lawrence) High School.” Lexington History Museum. Accessed February 26, 2018. http://lexhistory.org/wikilex/dunbar-paul-lawrence-high-school.
- Marx, Jeffrey. “Alumni of Dunbar Want Name Revived in New High School.” Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, KY), Sept. 2, 1987.
- “Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Lexington, KY).” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Accessed February 26, 2018. http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/1358.
Other Archive Collections:
Lexington Business Directories
The Lexington Business Directories contain local directories with information about local businesses, horse farms, and professionals.
The Kentucky almanac collection contains old regional almanacs.
Council of Defense Records
The Council of Defense records contain information about the soldiers, sailors, marines, and nurses who served during World War I.
Illustrated Lexington Kentucky
Illustrated Lexington Kentucky contains photographs, demographics, commerce and financial information about Lexington up to 1919.
Lexington Public Library History
The pamphlet contains information tracing the history of the Lexington Library to roughly 1902.
Old Homes of the Blue Grass
A photographic collection highlighting historic homes of the Bluegrass Region.
Kentucky Progress Magazine
The “Kentucky Progress Magazine” was used by the Kentucky Progress Commission to promote Kentucky, and features local interest stories, photographs of people, places, and activities.
The Kentucky Rally Songs pamphlet, published circa 1914 by the WCTU, contains 42 songs advocating women’s suffrage and prohibition.
Knowles Postcard Collection
Images of notable Kentucky locations, such as Ashland, Keeneland, and Mammoth Cave
Fayette County Directories
The Fayette County directories contain local information regarding resident addresses, government and officials, schools, land ownership, businesses, and other local organizations.
The Town Branch
The Town Branch was presented as a brief history of Lexington and the Town Branch, given as a speech by Maude Ward Lafferty in 1917.
Fayette County Postcards
The Fayette County Postcard collection contains 55 images of sites in central Kentucky.
The brochure for the Kentucky Chautauqua includes information and pictures of presenters and events.
Elmer L. Foote Lantern Slide Collection
The Elmer L. Foote Collection is a group of 190 lantern slides. They were created by Elmer L. Foote, a Cincinnati photographer and library staff member whose pictures appeared in the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune.
Mountain Ballads for Social Singing
The Mountain Ballads pamphlet is 15 songs originally compiled for English Folk Songs in the Mountains of the Southern Appalachians.
Hamilton Female College Collection
The Hamilton Female College catalogs list the school’s Board of Trustees, faculty, alumnae, graduates, directory of students, courses of study, and the members of each department.