Date Original



This collection contains photocopies of applications, programs, minutes, reports, photographs, correspondence, articles, and printed material concerning the work and service of Jeanes teachers.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ila Dedia Upchurch (May 20, 1892-September 4, 1989) was born in Buena Vista, Chickasaw County, Mississippi, the fourth of six children of James and Rachel Upchurch. Upchurch attended Okolona Industrial Institute in Okolona, Mississippi; Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Tuskegee Institute in Alabama; and several other colleges for advanced studies and summer programs. At seventeen, she took the county examination for a second grade teacher certificate and began her teaching career in Mississippi. She later taught at a small school in the Ashworth community, Hughes, Arkansas. Around 1925, Upchurch moved to Prescott, Nevada County, where she was hired as a supervisor of Jeanes teachers. Jeanes teachers were trained to improve the quality of instruction in schools, public health, living conditions, and promote community development. The Jeanes Fund was established in 1907 from a trust left by Anna T. Jeanes, a Quaker from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had an interest in the education of African Americans living in the South. The fund was set up to assist with the salaries of teachers working in these areas. The African American teachers and supervisors worked under the immediate direction of the local superintendent of schools. While surviving to around 1968 in several other states, there were only five Jeanes supervisors working in Arkansas when the program ended here in 1950. Upchurch, the only Jeanes teacher in Nevada County, served in that position for 25 years. As a Jeanes supervisor, she was hired to concentrate on the problems of the African American schools, and the people living in Nevada County. She was a member of the National Jeanes Association and the Regional Jeanes Association, Number 2, that included Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands. She later became the Assistant Supervisor of Negro Schools in Nevada County until her dismissal in the 1950s. Ila Upchurch was extremely influential in the African American community. The Upchurch Training School, located between Prescott and Bluff City, Arkansas, was named in her honor and existed from the 1930s to mid-1940s. After leaving the field of education, Upchurch opened a popular sewing and alterations shop. She did tax preparation, served as a notary public, and represented a Camden, Arkansas, funeral home in the Prescott area. Additionally, politicians running for local offices often sought her campaign support. "Ila Upchurch, Jeanes Teacher" was a project of the Nevada County Depot and Museum. The project was made possible with a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee (now the Black History Commission of Arkansas).

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



"Ila Upchurch, Jeanes Teacher" project records, MS.000551


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

"Ila Upchurch, Jeanes Teacher" project records, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at


United States History