Lucie DuValle: A Lifelong Educator

Central Colored School Building

In 1873, Central High School (originally named the Central Colored School) became the first school building in Kentucky constructed with public funds available to Black students. Originally the school offered grades 1-8, adding grades 9 and 10 in 1892 and later 11th and 12th grades. The school moved to a former white school building at Ninth and Magazine Streets in 1894. [Filson Historical Society Subject Photo Collection, SCH-75]

While educational reform in the late 19th century was revolutionary in many ways, it was not inclusive. State-funded common schools for Black children weren’t legalized in Kentucky until 1874. Even then, “colored” schools were dramatically underfunded and only sponsored by taxes collected from Black Kentuckians. This meant few teaching positions were open to the large pool of Black women ready to enter the workforce; as a result, when Central Colored High School opened in 1874, it had its pick of often over-qualified educators. 

One such prodigious Black educator was Lucie DuValle (1868-1928), who began her education in Louisville’s public schools and was teaching classes at the Eastern Colored School by the age of 10. In 1890, DuValle became the first female principal in the Louisville public school system when she was appointed to head the California Colored School. There she set the foundation for the state’s first “parents meetings” and was a pioneer in the field. Her work is still celebrated today, and her namesake carries on in the DuValle Education Center.

Women Teaching
Lucie DuValle: A Lifelong Educator