November 4th, 1863.
I have established a morning school in a Contraband camp south of the Trent River; there is an average attendance of one hundred and twenty-five pupils, and we now see a very studious band striving to learn with all their powers.
There are about one thousand freedmen in this camp, and many of them who have heretofore depended upon the labors of sons and daughters for their “daily bread,” are now seeking other means of supply, that their children may attend school. It is often said to me by these poor people, “I am willing to make any sacrifice that my little ones may be educated,” and this remark is made by those who have not a crust of bread for the morrow. There are fifty males and seventy-five females in this school; their ages are as follows:
75 are under 12 years of age.
20 are under 18 years of age.
30 are under 25 years of age.
My evening school for adults is full of interest; there is an average attendance of three hundred pupils. Over one hundred have learnt to read since they began to attend, and almost two hundred pupils will soon need a more advanced book than the one they are now using. Writing has been introduced into this school. It is my intention that only those who can read well, shall be allowed to have lessons given them in this accomplishment. I am obliged to make this condition for them to learn writing, as there is not space in the building to have many departments of learning. As soon as practicable, I intend to introduce arithmetic into this school.
I have four Sabbath Schools under my care; two of these I established. At one of these schools there are over six hundred pupils, and at each of the others two hundred. As soon as I receive a supply of books and papers, I hope to establish other schools.
O. E. Doolittle.
SOURCE: New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Extracts from Letters of Teachers and Superintendents of the New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Fourth Series, January 1, 1864, p. 9