RG 373: Records of Hoffman-Boston High School, 1948-2001

Collection Number
RG 373
The history of Hoffman-Boston High School is, in some ways, a reflection of the larger happenings in America during the Jim Crow and later Civil Rights eras.

In the immediate years after the Civil War, a short-term refuge for freed slaves known as Freedman’s Village was established in Arlington County. Since there was no school within the County for the children of freed slaves to attend, it fell to the inhabitants of Freedman’s Village to educate them. Schooling originally took place in various homes within the Village, but as the population grew, the need for a separate school building arose.

Hoffman Boston School was built in 1916 by Noble Thomas, the first African-American to construct a public building in Virginia. Originally known as the Jefferson School, it was later renamed Hoffman-Boston after Edward C. Hoffman, the school’s first principal, and Ella Boston, principal of Kemper Elementary School, which was another school serving Arlington County’s Black community. In its early years, the school educated students from grades 1 through 8.

In 1930, Arlington County, in response to an increasing population, opened up its first high school, but its enrollment was limited to white children only. African-American students had no such opportunity until years later when, in 1942, a group of high school seniors became the first graduating class at Hoffman-Boston.

As the Civil Rights movement swept the county, the changing tide from a racially divided society to a more inclusive one began to take affect in Arlington County. In response to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education against segregated public schools, the Arlington County School Board decided in 1956 that the County would comply with the ruling. The plan would be for integration to take place over the course of three years. As a result, the School Board later decided to close Hoffman-Boston High School as many of its students (and teachers) were transferred to other area schools, such as Yorktown and Wakefield. The 1964 graduating class became Hoffman-Boston’s last.

Over the years reunions have brought alumni and former teachers back together again. These gatherings have served as a way to celebrate a school that, despite all odds, dedicated itself to educating the African-American residents of Arlington County.
Scope and Content
RG 373 contains a mix of textual and visual materials that were originally compiled into a binder (or notebook) by Ophelia Taylor Pinkard, a former teacher at Hoffman Boston High School. For archival purposes the binder is considered a scrapbook and is treated as such.

The textual materials consist of programs from events such as graduations, theatrical productions, memorials, news clippings, correspondence, a newsletter, conference notes and a copy of a code of ethics. There is a significant amount of material related to reunions of Hoffman-Boston students and teachers. The visual materials consist of photographs, both in black and white and in color, and range in size from 3x5 to 8x10. This collection is 1.55 linear feet and covers the years from 1948 to 2001.
Arrangement and Description
RG 373 is arranged according to the original organization of the scrapbook (binder). There are four series which correspond directly to the four sections in the binder. Similarly, each folder in the collection matches up with each page of the scrapbook.

There are photographs interspersed with the textual materials throughout the collection. The photographs, for preservation reasons, have been photocopied onto acid-free paper. The originals have been removed and filed together in one folder at the end of the collection, in a separate series.

There are also several files that consist entirely of oversized materials. These folders are filed with other oversized materials from RG 7, Arlington County Public Schools. Separation sheets have been placed with removed materials. Please see Box List for more information.

*The following files contain photographs:
Series 1, File 4: Image R373-0001
Series 1, File 6: Image R373-0002 to R373-0004
Series 1, File 14: Image R373-0005, R373-0006
Series 1, File 15: Image R373-0007, R373-0008
Series 2, File 2: Image R373-0009 to R373-0012
Series 2, File 3: Image R373-0013 to R373-0020
Ophelia Taylor Pinkard donated this collection in December 2001.
There are no restrictions regarding the use of this collection.
Related Collections
Material on Arlington Public Schools in general can be found in RG 7, Arlington Public Schools, and regarding school desegregation in RG 69, Arlington County Public Schools: Desegregation Materials. RG 307, George Richardson Papers, contains material from Hoffman-Boston’s last principal. For more on Arlington’s Black community, please see RG 11, Papers of Edmond C. Fleet, RG 103, Freedman’s Village and Reconstruction Collection, RG 164, Personal Papers of Robert C. Branch, RG 196, Syphax Family Collection, and RG 349, Dorothea Hamm Personal Papers.