Booker T. Washington Timeline
Timeline Description: Booker T. Washington was a famous African American educator and speaker. He founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Washington also wrote many articles and books, including his autobiography, Up from Slavery.

Date Event
1856 Booker T. Washington is born in Hale's Ford, VA.

Booker T. Washington is born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. No one knows his actual birth date, or the name of his father, who is believed to have been a white man. His mother, Jane, is the plantation cook.
1865 Washington moves to Malden, West Virginia.

The Civil War ends and all slaves are given their freedom. Washington moves with his mother, brother, and sister to Malden, West Virginia where his stepfather has been living. He works at the salt mines to help the family, though he dreams about going to school. His mother gets him an old spelling book from which he teaches himself the alphabet.
1868 Washington works for General Lewis and Viola Ruffner.

Needing work, Washington gets hired by the Ruffners as a servant. It is through Mrs. Ruffner that Washington learns valuable lessons on cleanliness and order. Mrs. Ruffner helps Washington with his reading, and then allows him to go to school after his morning chores are done.
1872 Washington leaves for Hampton Institute (Fall 1872).

At age 16 Washington leaves for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, 500 miles away. He arrives at Hampton all dusty and dirty, and is told to sweep a classroom to see how well he does. Thanks to his training at Mrs. Ruffner's, Washington makes the room spotless, which allows him to begin school. He is given the job of building janitor to help pay his expenses.
1875 Washington graduates from the Hampton Institute.

After three years, Washington graduates from Hampton. Although he wants to teach, he spends the summer in New York, working at a restaurant to earn money. He returns home to Malden where the town offers him a teaching position.
1876 Washington completes his first year of teaching.

Washington keeps himself busy not only teaching school during the day, but in the evening as well. He also teaches two Sunday school classes, and starts up a public library and debate club in the community.
1879 Washington returns to Hampton as a teacher.

In the spring of 1879, Washington is asked to deliver a graduation speech at the Hampton Institute. He is later asked to teach there in the fall, where he is eventually put in charge of the night classes.
1881 Washington starts the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

The state of Alabama asks General Armstrong of the Hampton Institute to recommend a teacher to start an African American school in their state. Armstrong highly recommends Washington, who gets the job. Arriving on June 24, 1881, Washington gets to work and opens the school on July 4, 1881 with 30 students.
1882 Washington marries Fanny Smith.

On August 2, 1882, in Malden, West Virginia, Washington marries Fanny Smith. That fall, the first building on the Tuskegee campus, Porter Hall, is finished. It was built entirely by Tuskegee students.
1884 Fanny Washington dies.

In 1883 Fanny gives birth to their daughter, Portia. Fanny dies in 1884, leaving Washington a widower with a small child.
1885 Washington marries Olivia Davidson.

Olivia Davidson, a teacher at Tuskegee, marries Washington in 1885. They have two sons: Booker T. Washington, Jr. (1885), and Ernest Davidson Washington (1889). Olivia dies in 1889 from tuberculosis.
1892 Washington marries Margaret James Murray.

In 1892 Washington marries Margaret Murray, who becomes the lady principal of Tuskegee. She will go on to outlive Washington by ten years.
1895 Washington delivers his famous speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exhibition.

Washington is the only African American to deliver a speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exhibition of 1895. Some African Americans call his speech the "Atlanta Compromise" because they dislike his suggestions that African Americans should work hard, be patient, and have pride in their work now instead of wanting equal rights right away. His speech brings in many donations for the Tuskegee Institute.
1901 Washington's autobiography is published.

Washington's speech opens up many doors for him to write articles and books. In 1901, his autobiography, Up from Slavery, is published. It is eventually translated into many languages. That same year, Washington is invited by President Theodore Roosevelt to dine at the White House, the first African American to do so.
1915 Booker T. Washington dies.

In November of 1915, while in New York, Washington becomes ill. He is taken back to Tuskegee where he dies on November 14th. Around 8,000 people attend his funeral. He is buried on the Tuskegee campus. Washington will forever be remembered as a man who wanted to improve the life of his fellow African Americans through hard work and education.