VAUGHN’S TRAINING SCHOOL BLACK 1933-1951 was located in the home of Mary Ellen Vaughn on the east side of South Highland Street in Murfreesboro. The site is now the intersection of Vaughn Street and South Highland Ave.
Mary Ellen Vaughn, a graduate of Tuskegee College in Alabama and the holder of a bachelor’s degree 1931 and a master’s degree 1950 from Tennessee A&I College in Nashville, was the founder and teacher. Mrs. Sadie Jones taught singing and piano; Mrs. Martha Kimbro, sewing.
The school provided basic and vocational education for Black adults in the community. Besides basic subjects, vocational courses such as typing, cosmetology, and sewing were offered. Billy Haynes, a former grocer, was a student. He recalls that Miss Vaughn taught “the ABC’s first, then printing, writing, and reading. Other subjects included arithmetic, history, and geography. School cost 25 cents each week.”
Stephen Driver in a 1971 MTSU master’s thesis wrote, “This school was established because of the requirements of literacy to vote.” The purpose of the school in Mary Ellen Vaughn’s own words was “to elevate the race to high ideals, to lift them up and encourage them to live better lives.”
The school closed in 1951 because of Mary Ellen Vaughn’s ill health.
Mary Ellen Vaughn was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1893. She was a teacher at Tallassee, Alabama, in 1900, and in Macon County, Alabama, in 1901-1902. In 1920, she moved to Murfreesboro to care for her Uncle William Bibb and to do private teaching. She also worked as a public health nurse, having taken post-graduate work in nursing at Tuskegee Institute, and was a maid and possibly a nurse for the Faircloth family. She also published monthly The Murfreesboro Union, a four-page newspaper which “contained a minimal amount of advertising and generally dealt with social events in the Black community.” She died in 1953 “one year before the Brown school decision that altered forever the role of the Black in American society. But for more than 30 years she had worked to improve the lot of the Black person in Murfreesboro through education and personal
SOURCES: “Mary Ellen Vaughn,” The Daily News Journal, June 29, 1975. Jim Leonhirth and Anne Petty, “She Worked to Build a Better Race,” The Dai–yNews Journal, Feb. 17, 1980. *Willa K. Kimbro Foster. *R. T. Butler, d. April 5, 1986.