Tillotson College

1820 East 8th Street, Austin, Travis County, Texas 

Geographical Coordinates: 30.271576 -97.731507 

Travel Guide Listing(s): 1947 Green Book, Chauffeur’s Travel Bureau Guide (no date) 

Historical Listing(s): Tillotson College (OTHM 12248)


  • 1877 chartered Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute
  • 1881 classes begin 
  • 1909 renamed Tillotson College 
  • 1924 appointed first Black president, J. T. Hodges 
  • 1925 recognized as junior college 
  • 1930 appointed Mary Elizabeth Branch as first woman president and second Black president
  • 1931 recognized as senior college 
  • 1943 received accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools 
  • 1952 merged with Samuel Huston College, becoming Huston-Tillotson College

History of Tillotson College

Initially named Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute, the school officially opened its doors on January 17, 1881, in Austin, Texas.[1] Located on a 23-acre plot named Bluebonnet Hill, it offered elementary, secondary, and college education to all Black residents in Austin for the first time.[2] Although most of Tillotson's students had no prior education, they eagerly enrolled in its first year, totaling 100 students.[3] These students took immense pride in their admission and acknowledged their duty to contribute to Black American society through skills and education. Like Sam Huston College, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute had an outstanding education and music department. 

The creation of Tillotson College reflects the mission and values of the Freedmen's Aid Society. Formed in 1861, the Society aimed to provide formal education for all freed African American people after the Civil War's end.[4] Their support was instrumental in creating several historically Black universities and colleges. With the help of the American Missionary Association (AMA), the Freedmen's Aid Society founded Tillotson College. For many years, the AMA involved itself in the struggle for racial equality and, as a result, undertook several benevolent projects. Some of these included the founding of Atlanta University, Fisk University, and Hampton Institute.[5]   

In February 1877, Tillotson Collegiate and Normal Institute began making headway, chartering under the leadership of Reverend George Jeffry Tillotson.[6] In 1879, the campus's first building, Allen Hall, was built. The college constructed male and female dormitories to house incoming students to provide adequate resources. Beard Hall, the women's dormitory, was constructed in 1894.[7] According to an 1892 catalog, "the cost of board and tuition, including a furnished room, light, and washing, was $12 per month."[8] In addition to room and board, chapel services were held regularly, a tradition that continues today at Huston-Tillotson's King Seabrook Chapel.  

In 1909, the school was renamed Tillotson College under a new charter. Nevertheless, it was still considered a "normal school," focusing on training Black teachers. However, Tillotson College would not appoint its first African American president, Mr. J. T. Hodges, until 1924.[9] In 1930, Tillotson College selected its first woman president and second African American president, Ms. Mary Elizabeth Branch, who would transform the declining school by building new structures, rehabilitating existing buildings, expanding the library, and increaing the faculty and student body.[10] During this time, the college underwent several divergent phases, reorganizing itself as a junior college in 1925, a women's college in 1926, and a senior coeducational institution in 1935.[11] Branch would be recognized for her efforts by being appointed to the National Youth Administration's Negro Advisory Board for Texas by President Lyndon B. Johnson and received two honorary degrees from Virginia State College and Howard University. She also served as the Austin Chapter president of the NAACP and she helped to establish the United Negro College Fund.[12] By 1943, the college earned a class A accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.[13] Despite Tillotson College's educational milestones, it decided to officially merge with Samuel Huston College to form Huston-Tillotson College on October 24, 1952.[14] 

For citations used for this webpage: Tillotson College citations.

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  • Ragolia, Josephine. Diploma for Loomis Rucker, 1914. Sutori https://www.sutori.com/en/story/huston-tillotson-university--zNk3n6X7X4TTaYwKp4pnyCuH