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Drexel Catholic High School alumni collection

Identifier: aarl95-020

Scope and Content Note

Drexel Catholic High School Alumni Collection contains school records and alumni papers, documents and memorabilia. The collection, which spans the years 1956 to 1961, and has been arranged into the following series: I. Publications (1961-1967); II. Biographical Information and general correspondence (1961-1967); III. Printed Materials, (1962-1967); IV. General Photographs; V. Miscellaneous School Documents; VI. Artifacts.


  • 1964-1967

Historical Sketch

Drexel Catholic High School began in the mind of The Most Reverend Francis E. Hyland, Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Atlanta, from 1956 to 1961, when he thought about opening a high school for the purpose of providing quality education for African-American Catholic and nonCatholic students. Through the generosity of the trustees of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, the diocese was granted the funds for the new school.

The school was erected at 631 Harwell Road, NW, on a property that was formally owned by the Medical Mission Sisters. The name Drexel was chosen in honor of Mother Mary Katherine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of The Blessed Sacrament, and a pioneer in the work of interracial justice. The Architectural Arts Offices of Albert 0. Ordway, A. I. A., designed Drexel's physical structure, and construction began in the summer of 1961. The general contractor was Van Winkle & Company of Atlanta.

Drexel Catholic High School was built to accommodate only 300 students, when it opened the first year, September of 1961 it started with a freshman class of 33 pupils. Thereafter, a grade was added each year until they reached a complete four-year high school. In June of 1965 enrollment was 122, and the school graduated its first senior class that year.

In 1966 the number of students increased to 138, and in 1967 that number increased to 156 students. The Reverend Richard O'Leary, C. P., was appointed principal. The Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament were the original members of the faculty; the faculty staff included Sister Mary Donatus, S. S. J., Sister Maureen Patricia, S. B. S., and Sister Mary Francois, S. B. S.

On September 23, 1962 the Most Reverend Paul J. Hallinan, Archbishop of Atlanta, dedicated the building. However, the Archdiocese saw that it was not feasible for enrollment to, grow, from other segments of Atlanta, in order for the school to become large enough to fully provide the highest quality education envisioned; consequently, Drexel High School was closed in June, 1967 after graduating only three senior classes.

In July of 1969, the Atlanta Board of Education purchased the building, and it is now the site of Bazoline E. Usher Middle School. However, between 1961 and 1967 Drexel's students continued to share a special kinship unlike that experienced by students of any other school.

The Drexel students and the faculty nfembers have manifested in their lives and in, their communities, the motivation, values, traditions and successes, which they gained during the sixties. They realize how important it is for African Americans to record and to take responsibility for preserving their history as a testimony to their striving and accomplishments.

The students' and faculty's members' Diaspora is vast and varied, and truly, being a school without a home, the alumni have worked diligently to organize and contribute their legacy to the archives of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. This legacy will serve as a resource and as an inspiration to all people who are interested in the unique achievements and history of African Americans.


2.5 Linear feet




The collection contains yearbooks, textbooks, information on the birth of the high school, general correspondence, newsletters, photographs, and artifacts including class rings, a sweatshirt, and a trophy documenting student life and school operations at Drexel Catholic High School in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1964 through 1967.


Organized into six series:
  1. I. Publications
  2. II. Biographical information and correspondence
  3. III. Printed materials
  4. IV. General photographs
  5. V. Miscellaneous School Documents
  6. VI. Artifacts


Mr. Marshall B. Thomas donated the Drexel Catholic High School Collection to the Auburn Avenue Research Library in 1995.

Processing Information

Processed by Regina Broh-Castin. Completed in 1995
Inventory of the Drexel Catholic High School Alumni Collection aarl95-020 aarl95-020
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
2004 September 15
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History Repository

101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta GA 30303