Founded in 1870, Leland University was created with the purpose of educating free black people living in Southern Louisiana. Originally meant to educate only freemen (black people that were free prior to the 13th amendment), by 1873 the college eventually began to accept freedmen (black people that became free after the 13th amendment). The college’s curriculum included educating students in Art, Sciences, Philosophy, Theology, Pedagogy, and Agricultural studies.
Leland University opened as a coed school, borrowing its principles of education from W.E.B DuBois. In his controversial essay, “The Talented Tenth,” W.E.B DuBois praised Leland University as being one of the six largest and most important schools educating black people at the time. DuBois also praised the school for having Greek and Latin as a part of its curriculum.
Leland incorporated industrial education into it’s curriculum as well, teaching its students how to grow crops, make clothing, teach children, and be clergymen. Female students were able to study in the Domestic Sciences department where students took classes in subjects like cooking and sewing.
Leland University was located on 7013 St. Charles Avenue across the street from Audubon Park. Separated by the residential neighborhood Audubon Place, Leland University soon became a neighbor of Tulane University in 1894. Due to the area’s recent annexation into New Orleans (the area was originally known as Jefferson), Leland quickly became prime real estate with tourists and students alike in awe of Leland’s immaculate campus and convenient location.
After a storm in 1915 damaged the campus, Leland University’s board of trustees decided it would be best to sell the university instead of repairing it. The land behind the university became Newcomb College, a women’s only college that later became a part of Tulane University. Leland University (renamed Leland College) moved to Baker, Louisiana until it closed its doors in 1960.