Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

Dr. Philip Misevich

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Schmidt Horning

Third Advisor

Dr. Konrad Tuchscherer


This dissertation studies the relationship between African migrant students, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Phelps-Stokes Fund. In the early twentieth century, the Phelps-Stokes Fund, a philanthropic organization founded on expanding educational accesses to Africans, African Americans, and Native Americans, launched two educational surveys through Africa. Its educational director, Thomas Jesse Jones, hoped that the tour would provide insight into African educational systems and expand his vision for Black education. The two surveys caught the attention of many Africans interested in expanding their education outside of Africa. As a result, future African state builders such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, and several others came to know Thomas Jesse Jones and the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Jones used Phelps-Stokes Fund scholarships to help pay for African students’ college tuition in America, steering them toward schools that encouraged training in agriculture and other trades. Yet by funding students to study in the United States, Jones’ program had the unintended consequence of radicalizing Africans’ beliefs about education and decolonization. At Howard and Lincoln Universities, African students gained access to and studied under important African American educators, particularly William Hansberry and Alain Locke. The lessons students learned inside and outside the classroom helped shape their visions for a new Africa, free from colonial rule. African students also gained a new appreciation for the wider political struggle in which they were engaged. They joined and even formed Pan-African organizations both on and off their college campuses to promote unity and solidarity between people of African descent. They applied these lessons upon their return to the continent, working to undermine colonialism through the creation of new educational centers at the University of Ghana and Nigeria University. Born of a western model for perpetuating industrial education, Jones’ project thus ultimately led to the construction of institutions and identities that helped bring down colonial rule in Africa.