Greensfork Township District 13:

Union Literary Institute

Photo taken February 21, 2022. From the author’s collection.

The Union Literary Institute was founded in 1846 by Quakers and free African-Americans in local students during a time where only white students were privileged to go to public schools. Despite the influence of the Quakers, the school was non-religious. 

Levi Coffin was a member of the board of the school when its managers first met in 1845 at the Quaker Meeting House in what’s now Fountain City, Indiana (Emery, 2016). Students over the age of fourteen were allowed to pay for their studies through the use of farm work, though the school subsisted largely on donations (Union, 2019).

The school was referred to what we would now call derogatory or unspeakable terms in an 1892 history of Indiana’s education (Boone, 1892), though poor white students also attended classes there before the school closed in 1880. 

Around 1874, Greensfork Township began giving financial assistance to the Union Literary Institute and designated it as District 13 (Hinshaw).

As township school, the institution closed in 1911 in order for its students to attend classes at Spartanburg,, and thirteen years later the school’s grounds were designated as the property of the institute’s trustees. The grounds of the school were sold in 1937 (Hinshaw). 

The second story and cupola of the primary building was removed at some point prior to 2010, when the structure was purchased by the Union Literary Institute Preservation Society (Saving, 2021).

Today, what remains of the building is stabilized and awaiting further restorative outreach. 


Emery, M. M. (December 12, 2016). Grant will help save Randolph County historic site. The Richmond Palladium-Item. Retrieved March 17, 2022 from

Union Literary Institute (2019). Atlas Obscura. Retrieved March 17, 2022 from

Boone, R.G. (1892). A History of education in Indiana. book, D. Appletons. 

Hinshaw, G. (2008). A History of Education in Randolph County, Indiana. Retrieved February 13, 2022.

Saving Places That Tell the Story of Indiana’s Black History (2021). Indiana Lnadmarks. Retrieved March 17, 2022 from