The Black Family and Community as Contributors to Increased Academic Achievement: The Ethnographical and Historical Case of the Archer Family From 1647-2017

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The Black Family and Community as Contributors to Increased Academic Achievement: The Ethnographical and Historical Case of the Archer Family From 1647-2017

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Title: The Black Family and Community as Contributors to Increased Academic Achievement: The Ethnographical and Historical Case of the Archer Family From 1647-2017
Author: Douglass, Melvin
Citation: Douglass, Melvin. 2017. The Black Family and Community as Contributors to Increased Academic Achievement: The Ethnographical and Historical Case of the Archer Family From 1647-2017. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
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Abstract: The Black Family and Community as Contributors to Increased Academic Achievement: The Ethnographical and Historical Case of the Archer Family from 1647-2017, is a study that focuses on John Archer (1647-1718), who was one of the first freedman in the colony of Virginia about one hundred years prior to the American Revolution and two hundred years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation (Heinegg, 1994). He is the patriarch of descendants with a distinguished military and academic history dating back to the American Revolutionary War. In recent years, one of his descendants, Lieutenant Colonel Lee Archer, was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom ( Lee Archer, 1)). John Archer and his descendants lived through some of the most tumultuous times in American history and managed to achieve educational levels that were above average for the time in which they lived. In this study, the researcher constructed educational biographies of ten generations beginning with John Archer, 1647-1718; Thomas Archer, 1687-1761; John Archer, 1715-1791; Benjamin Archer, 1855-1954; Levi Archer, Sr., 1790-after 1837; Levi Archer, Jr., 1807-1855; Nancy Archer, 1857-1954; Noby Mary Archer-Lilly, 1892-1957; Esther Louvinia (Archer- Lilly)Tripp, 1927-2010 and Melvin Isadore (Archer-Lilly) Douglass, 1948-present, to see why/how certain external factors within the family and community helped to shape the lives of ten generations of members of the Archer family.

The researcher interviewed members of the Archer family, personal friends, and professional associates, as well as black historians who offered additional insight on the biographies of the ten people included in the educational research. In addition, the researcher reviewed and analyzed pertinent written material that related to the ten people in this study. Included in these written materials were life histories (autobiography, letters and obituaries), historical data and fictional writings.

More importantly, the three major elements that related to the literacy of the subjects were: (1) tradition, (2) external factors, and (3) good fortune.

The researcher found that in each instance certain traditions played a major role in the lives of the subject under investigation. All of the subjects received and handed down certain beliefs, legends, and customs from generation to generation. The traditional values that were passed on were: piety, thrift, respect for education, and race pride.

The researcher also found several external factors in the family: the family's history of manumission; the history of family literacy; the family’s worth as it related to property; the family’s size; the strong parental figures, and the family's attitude toward and support of learning. These factors contributed to the academic achievement of each person.

Furthermore, the researcher found several factors within the community that were equally important to the subject under investigation: public and private learning institutions, religious institutions, and educational climate of the communities at the time.

Also of major importance, the researcher found that good fortune played a role in the academic achievement of the individuals in this research report. In other words, they were at the right place at the right time.

This analysis enabled the researcher to identify some of the positive factors that contributed to black academic achievement. By completing the study, the researcher hopes the findings will enable schools and other social agencies to identify and isolate factors in students that contribute to increased academic achievement, so that these factors can be used to help low academic achievers reach their fullest academic potential. In addition, the researcher aims to give a broader, more holistic picture of our larger society.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33825893
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