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A.A. Burleigh Papers

Identifier: RG 08-8.06

Scope and Contents

These are the papers of A.A. Burleigh, one of the first African Americans to attend and graduate from Berea College.  Materials include biographical information, correspondence, pension applications, medical and death records, and additional print material.


  • created: 1867-1938

Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations.

Biographical Note

A.A. Burleigh was born in 1848, somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean.  He was the son of an African American mother – Charlotta De Dasco - and a sea captain of English descent, Charles A. Burleigh.  His mother’s descent is unclear—Angus Burleigh declared her of Moorish descent from Granada, Spain, whereas many other sources describe her as African American slave born in Florida.  Burleigh was born free, but after his father’s death, both he and his mother were forced into slavery.  At first slaves in Virginia, they were moved to Kentucky at a later date. On August 22, 1864, at the age of sixteen, A.A. Burleigh escaped to a recruiting station in Frankfort and enlisted as volunteer in the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery at Camp Nelson.  By November 2, 1865, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  After being discharged, Burleigh met John G. Fee (April 24, 1866).  Fee invited him to attend Berea College.  Burleigh enthusiastically accepted the offer and arrived at Berea on foot after a long trip from Camp Nelson.  Burleigh was one of the first African American males to attend and graduate from Berea College.  He graduated in 1875 with an A.B. and A.M. degree in Classics. Burleigh followed various career paths and professions.  He was a minister with the AME Church and served as chaplain in the U.S. Army from around 1874 to 1906.  He also served as a schoolteacher, salesperson, and farmer. Burleigh married Louisa E. Shaffer in Greene County, Ohio, on November 25, 1875.  They had three children: two sons – Otto F. and Cornelius H.—and one daughter – Benitta.  Throughout his life he lived in various parts of the United States, such as Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana and California.  He settled permanently in Hermosa Beach, California. Burleigh was 93 when he died on May 24, 1938, in the National Military Home in the Veteran’s Administration Facility in Los Angeles, California. He was buried in Los Angeles.  In the early 1930s, Burleigh was considered the oldest living Berea College graduate. Burleigh wrote a booklet called John G. Fee, Founder of Berea College.  In his booklet, he shared his knowledge of John G. Fee’s biography, as well as his own memories of meeting and working Fee.  The booklet extensively narrates the early history and construction of Berea College.


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Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US