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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark HASKELL INSTITUTE

Location: Douglas County, on Kans. 10, southeastern edge of Lawrence.

Established in 1884 as the Indian Training School, Haskell Institute was one of the nonreservation Indian schools modeled after the Carlisle Indian School, Pa., and within a few years attained an importance second only to it. Of all the nonreservation schools set up in the late 19th century, when many reformers believed that Indian education should be provided at off-reservation boarding schools removed from the pervasive influence and restrictions of reservation life, Haskell is one of the few surviving today. Its history mirrors the changing governmental philosophy of education for Indians—which has ranged from vocational education and the inculcation of white values to preprofessional and precollegiate training and recognition of the richness of the Indian heritage. The major goal today is to aid students who return to their tribes to improve their own social and economic conditions as well as that of their people and to aid all students to take their place in national life.

Keokuk Hall
Keokuk Hall (1884), the oldest building at Haskell Institute. (National Park Service)

The institute opened in 1884 with only 22 pupils, but by the end of the second year enrollment numbered 220 from 31 tribes. In the early years the educational program stressed vocational training and elementary education, for many of the students had to be taught to speak, read, and write English. By 1906, however, when enrollment numbered 921 from 60 tribes, emphasis had begun to shift toward academic training. Although agriculture, handicrafts, and home economics continued to be taught, the curriculum came more and more to resemble that of standard elementary and junior high schools. Later the program was broadened to equal a standard high school course. In 1931 enrollment reached a peak of 1,240. In 1965 the school ended its academic program, created new curricula and facilities, and became the first Indian school offering vocational and technical training exclusively at the postsecondary level.

Administered by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Haskell Institute today resembles a typical small American college. Most of the buildings are modern structures, but several recall the school's early years: Keokuk Hall (1884), a boys' dormitory; the hospital (1886), today housing school employees; Hiawatha Hall (1898), a girls' gymnasium; Winona Hall (1899), a girls' dormitory; and Tecumseh Hall (1915), a boys' gymnasium.

NHL Designation: 07/04/61

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Last Updated: 19-Aug-2005