Lincoln Institute Complex

Lincoln Institute Complex

The Lincoln Institute was an all-black boarding high school in Shelby County, Kentucky, that operated from 1912 to 1966.

The school was created by the trustees of Berea College after the Day Law passed the Kentucky Legislature in 1904. It put an end to the racially integrated education at Berea that had lasted since the end of the Civil War. The founders of the school chose the name Lincoln when they realized that there was no educational institution in the state of Kentucky named after the president.

The founders originally intended Lincoln to be a college as well as a high school, but by the 1930s it gave up its junior college function. Lincoln offered both vocational education and standard high school classes. The students produced the school's food on the campus' 444 acres.

One notable alumnus of the Lincoln Institute was Whitney M. Young Jr., a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement and director of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971. Young was born on the campus in 1921. His father, Whitney Young Sr., led the school as its longtime principal.

Whitney Young Jr. was born on the campus of the Center when his father was president of the Lincoln Institute. Just adjacent to the entrance to the campus a historical marker and memorial commemorates the massacre of 22 members of the United States Colored Cavalry by Confederate guerrillas during the American Civil War.

The campus also houses the Whitney Young Birthplace and Museum, a National Historic Landmark that presents the story of the Lincoln Institute and Whitney Young Jr.

Today, the Lincoln Foundation, which was established along with the school, carries on the work of the Lincoln Institute by providing educational programs for disadvantaged youths in the Louisville area and preserving the Lincoln Institute's historic legacy.

The Lincoln Institute was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.