About Us
Since 1839: A Brief History of EHS

Our Pre-Civil War History

Throughout the years, members of the Episcopal community have researched and shared accounts of the School’s founding and history. Many of these efforts have been comprehensive and collaborative, and they have even involved our students delving into Episcopal’s archives as part of their work in U.S. History courses and other social studies electives.

Particular focus was placed on this research in the years leading up to our commemoration of 50 years of integration, with the establishment of an Office of Community and Equity in 2017, and with the work of the Board Task Force on Racism, Understanding, and Belonging commencing in 2020. Through this work, Episcopal achieved increased clarity about the role enslaved people played in the School’s pre-Civil War history between 1839-1861.

In the fall of 2021, Head of School Charley Stillwell and Chair of the Board of Trustees Lee Ainslie ’82 P’14 ’17 established the School History Working Group to explore what had been learned and to advise the Board on a thoughtful path forward in acknowledging our history, continuing the research, and discussing implications of our past in relation to the School today and in the future. 

In April 2022, the School History Working Group shared its findings with the full Board of Trustees, which, at its final meeting in June 2022, unanimously approved a resolution to “...acknowledge the weight of what we have learned and to commit Episcopal to pursuing actions that are substantive and meaningful.” 
The June 2022 Board resolution called upon the School to:
• Pursue meaningful steps to honor our duties as a community, always aspiring to integrity, respect, and care for one another;
• Honor and commemorate the enslaved men, women, and children, who helped build and sustain Episcopal High School in the 1839-1861 period in a meaningful, respectful, and lasting way; and
• Review academic courses, historical exhibits, and online histories of the School to ensure that they are thorough and appropriately comprehensive.

Responding to the Board Resolution

In the fall of 2022, Head of School Charley Stillwell and the administration began planning the School’s action steps in response to the Board resolution

Initial efforts, initiated in October 2022, include:

  • focused research to ensure we have adequate information about the enslaved persons who worked on Episcopal’s campus so that the ultimate commemoration reflects a sincere and comprehensive attempt to honor their lives and contributions to the School;
  • appointment of an advisory group to help review how other institutions have approached similar commemorations and to consider the best method for Episcopal to fulfill this goal; and
  • review of places where the School's history is told, whether in courses or in exhibits on campus or online, so that we can determine the best ways to tell the School's history in a full, open, and engaging manner.

As this work continues, the School will seek advice from a variety of individuals within the EHS community and beyond to help ensure we are pursuing these tasks in a caring, responsible, and thoughtful way. Updates will be provided to the school community through our established bulletins and newsletters and posted on this webpage. 

List of 1 items.

2021-2022 School History Working Group
*Established in Fall 2021. This group concluded its work with the presentation of its findings at the April 2022 Board of Trustees meeting. 

• Billy Peebles ’73
Trustee 2015-2021, Working Group Chair
• Jonathan Beane ’88 P’24 ’24
Trustee and Chair of the Racism, Understanding, and Belonging Task Force
• Lenora Gant P’96
Trustee 1996-2002
• Bailey Patrick ’79 P’11 ’12 ’14
Trustee 2004-10, Board Chair 2011-17
• Louis Smith P’19, ’22, ’23
Director of the Office of Community and Equity
• Bobby Watts P’98 ’00
Faculty member 1992-2014