The Prince William Chapter of the NAACP held a meeting last week to determine public support for a museum that would honor Jenny Dean, founder of the only high school for black students in Prince William, Fauquier, Rappahannock and Warren counties for 50 years. Jenny Dean, for whom the Manassas Middle School was named, was the daughter of slaves. Her biographer called Dean's struggle to establish the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youths in 1894 the "third battle of Manassas" in which she enlisted the help of leading citizens Frederick Douglass and Andrew Carnegie. An NAACP spokesman said the group hopes that residents and former students and staff of the school will donate land, artifacts, funds and skills to build the museum.
Doug Harvey, Manassas Museum curator, said the NAACP has not asked the museum for help, but officials hope to be involved in the planning for the Dean memorial. The city recently placed a historical marker on the site of the old school; brochures on Dean's achievements will be ready for distribution within a week. "We also plan to do a big Jenny Dean display at our museum as soon as we have the money and the space for it," Harvey said.
At 8 p.m. Tuesday the Manassas Historical Committee will present battlefield historian John Hennessey in a one-hour program at City Hall that will focus on the Manassas Junction community as it existed during the second Manassas battle, 120 years ago, "Rather than on the battlefield for a change," Harvey said. The battlefield park has begun a search for a chief historian and interpreter to replace Haywood Harrell, who left recently for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, according to Roland Swain, battlefield superintendent. Swain said he will fill the position from within the National Park system within 90 days.