W. H. Passon Historical Society Records
An Inventory of the Collection
W. H. Passon
W. H. Passon, educator, was born near Mumford, Texas in 1864. He moved to Austin, Texas with his parents in 1881. He began his teaching career at a school in Kinchionville, Texas (southwest Austin) in 1883. After teaching at various Central Texas schools he was elected to the position of principal of the Wheatville School in 1894. He would go on to serve as the principal of the West Austin School, Clarksville School, Olive Street School and Gregorytown.
Passon married Mittie T. Carr of Oakwoods, Texas in 1884. He was a faithful member of the Metropolitan A. M. E. Church. His effort to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the church in 1907 resulted in The Historical and Biographical Souvenir and Program of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Austin, Texas, 1882-1907, one of the earliest written histories of the church and African American life in Austin, Texas. Passon died in 1933. In 1979 the W. H. Passon Historical Society was founded with the aim of promoting the history of Austin's African American community.
West Austin School, Clarksville School and Olive Street School
When Austin Public Schools opened in 1881 there were two primary schools for African American children - Wheatville and the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. By 1897, the number increased to five schools-four elementary schools and one high school, one of which was the West Austin School located on the southwest corner of West 5th and West Avenue. When a new school building was built in Clarksville (and named Clarksville School) in 1916 the staff and students from the West Austin School moved and the original building was turned into a school for non-English speaking children. Clarksville Elementary closed in 1965.
High school classes for African American students started in the Robertson Hill School in 1889. In 1907, the school was moved to a new building at Olive and Curve Streets and named Anderson High School. Anderson High School moved to 1607 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1913 and Olive and the Curve Streets building was repurposed as the Olive Street School for elementary students. Olive Street School burned in 1974.
The W. H. Passon Society Papers consist of two handwritten journals from schools at which W. H. Passon served as principal, West Austin School, Clarksville School and Olive Street School. The first journal is titled "West Austin School History Sept. 21, 1908-" and documents life at the West Austin School and then at Clarksville School after the teachers and students were moved to the new building. The journal entries are dated from 1908 to 1918 and include a history of the schools written by W. H. Passon, sporadic daily entries recorded by the school secretary, meeting minutes of faculty meetings, the Clarksville School Club, West Austin Parents' Club and a financial accounting of money donated by school clubs for school supplies. Visits from Superintendent A.N. McCallum and Supervisor L. C. Anderson are documented along with discussions between teachers and Passon and disruptions to the regular school life because of special events. Of interest in the West Austin book is discussion of how many pupils were enrolled on any given day at the beginning of the fall term and the difficulty of recruiting students because of fall harvest and the effect this had on paying teachers.
The second journal is titled "Record of Olive Street School Faculty Meetings" and has a few entries dated from 1918 but the majority of the entries are dated from September 1923 through March 1926. Passon was "forced to resign at the opening of the schools, September 1919" and was reinstated in fall of 1923 which explains the gap in the journal. Notes of the faculty meetings were recorded by Passon and the school secretary. Topics such as improving pupil attendance, poor student behavior during recess, special programing for holidays as well as promotions and new teacher appointments.
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The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Ada Simond, co-founder of the W. H. Passon Historical Society, received these journals from Mrs. W. H. Passon and then donated them to the Austin History Center. The donor requested that the items be processed as the W. H. Passon Historical Society Papers.
W. H. Passon Historical Society Papers (AR.Q.014). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1960/054
Donation Date: 1979
Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults in 2016.
Detailed Description of the Collection