History Department

Learning in Black and White: Race Relations at Hanover College, 1832-1980

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Learn about the first African Americans at Hanover
through their own words and from historical documents ---

  • Read articles from the Triangle (Hanover's student newspaper) for student perspectives from the civil rights era.

  • Read alumni interviews for a twenty-first-century perspective on the civil rights era.

  • See photos of our first African-American graduates

  • Read secondary sources for historical context.

  • Read other primary sources for more perspectives (for example, from students at other schools).
Alma Gene Prince, 1951 (from the Revonah)
Shirley Bryant
Moses Broyles tombstone
Jim Hickerson (from the Revonah)
Sarah Howard (from the Revonah)
Lowell Cheatham Wormley, 965

A Brief History of Race Relations at Hanover College, 1832-1980

Racial equality was a founding principle for Hanover College.  John Finley Crowe, who started the school that became Hanover College, was an abolitionist, as was James Blythe, the College's first president.  

Benjamin Templeton, Hanover's first African-American student, enrolled as a preparatory student in 1832 and stayed for four years.  He chose to leave for seminary before graduating, but the community seems to have welcomed him, and his time at Hanover was uneventful.

Unfortunately, the college changed its position thirty years after its founding.  In 1857, Moses Broyles was the second African American to apply for admission, but his application was rejected.  Apparently, the faculty and Board of Trustees chose to abandon the College's founding principles because they feared that admitting an African-American student might reduce white enrollment or cause conflict on campus.

Hanover maintained this segregationist policy for almost one hundred years.

In 1948, Alma Gene Prince, from nearby Madison, applied for admission as a transfer student.  So far as the record shows, she was the first African American to apply for admission since Moses Broyles.  Although there was some quiet and ugly opposition to having an African American on campus, most welcomed Prince, and she became Hanover's first African-American graduate in 1951.

The Board of Trustees officially affirmed the integration of the College in 1954, but years went by without any additional African-American students.

Warner Spencer was the next African American to be admitted, in 1957 -- one hundred years after the College had rejected Moses Broyles.  Spencer graduated in 1961. About ten more African Americans attended over the rest of the 1960s, and about a dozen in the 1970s.

See this bibliography for sources and more historical context.


Timeline of African-American Graduates

  • Benjamin Templeton, of Adams County, Ohio, was admitted in 1832 and succeeded as a student but left before graduating.
           (So far as the record shows, no other African Americans applied to the college for over twenty years.)
  • Moses Broyles, of Lancaster, Indiana, was refused admission in 1857, when the College officially barred African Americans.
           (So far as the record shows, no other African Americans applied to the college for almost one hundred years.)
  • Alma Gene Prince, of Madison, Indiana, majored in social science and graduated in 1951 -- the first African American to do so.
           (In 1954, the Board of Trustees officially voted against racial discrimination in admissions.)
  • Warner Spencer, of Evansville, Indiana, majored in sociology and psychology and graduated in 1961.
           (In 1963, African-American and white students, including Judy Moffett, organize around civil rights issues.)
  • Arthur Ngama Ndoro, of Nakuru, Kenya, majored in economics and graduated in 1964.
           (In 1965, five Hanover students participated in the Selma to Montgomery March.)
  • Shirley Ann Bryant, of Indianapolis, Indiana, majored in sociology and graduated in 1965.
  • Lowell Cheatham Wormley, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, majored in history and graduated in 1965.
  • Phyllis Ann Simmons, of Indianapolis, Indiana, majored in mathematics and graduated in 1966.
  • Aaron Woods III, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, majored in history and graduated in 1968.
           (In 1969, the Triangle published a long and frank discussion among fourteen African-American students of racial issues on campus.)
  • Dorothy Herring, of Indianapolis, Indiana, majored in mathematics and graduated in 1969.
  • Sarah Etoria Howard, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, majored in theater and graduated in 1969.
  • John Burlew graduated in 1970.
  • Arlene Johnson graduated in 1970.
  • Raymond Thomas, of Ghana, majored in chemistry and graduated in 1970.
  • Willie Perkins, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, majored in history and graduated in 1971.
  • Jimmy Reed, of Jonesville, Kentucky, majored in history and graduated in 1971.
  • Ricardo Lyles, of Washington, D.C., majored in political science and graduated in 1972.
  • Robert Carter, Jr, of Cleveland, Ohio, majored in psychology and graduated in 1973.
  • Semere Haile, of Asmara, Ethiopia, majored in business and graduated in 1973.
  • Yvonne Hundley, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, majored in sociology and graduated in 1973.
  • Terrell Robinson, of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, majored in speech drama and graduated in 1973.
  • Patrick Iyahe, of Benin City, Nigeria, majored in chemistry and biology and graduated in 1974.
  • Nathan Clemmons, of Indianapolis, Indiana, majored in physical education and graduated in 1976.
  • Geoffrey Duruamaku, of Obazu-Mbieri, Nigeria, majored in sociology and graduated in 1978.
  • James Hickerson III, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, majored in sociology and graduated in 1978.


About Learning in Black and White: 

The core of this website comes from archival research and oral history interviews that Caroline Brunner (HC 2018) began in the summer of 2016 -- work made possible with the generous support of Mark and Cheri (Griffith) Nichols (both HC 1974).  Sarah McNair Vosmeier provided guidance, web design, and additional research.  Archivist Jennifer Duplaga maintains the documents essential to understanding Hanover's past (including the oral histories created for this project), and she also provided research assistance.  Students in His234 "Studies in American Cultural History" contributed research on other predominantly white colleges and universities in the Midwest.  Joe Lackner and Ben Stilson provided technical support, and Pat Schuring and Annabelle Vosmeier transcribed newspaper articles. We are grateful to them all.

We welcome contributions of memories or documents from alumni and others who can help tell this story.  Please contact historians@hanover.edu.