History of Cheyney University

Cheyney University was established on February 25, 1837, through the bequest of Richard Humphreys, making it the first institution of higher learning for African Americans.

Emlen Hall (l) and Humphreys Hall (r), Circa 1900

Emlen Hall reading room, early 1900s


At its founding in 1837, the university was named the African Institute. However, the name was changed several weeks later to the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY). In subsequent years, the university was renamed Cheyney Training School for Teachers (July 1914), Cheyney State Teacher’s College (1951), Cheyney State College (1959), and eventually Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (1983).

Aerial photo of Cheyney Training School for Teachers, Quadrangle (aka; the Quad) circa 1920s.  Pictured far left is Burleigh Hall, (clockwise from Burleigh) Dudley Theater (formerly Penn Hall), Carnegie Hall, Emlen Hall and Humphreys Hall.


Today, Cheyney University students represent a variety of races, cultures, and nationalities who receive quality instruction beyond the original vision of Humphreys.

Exploring A National Treasure

A presentation giving a detailed history of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.  Acknowledgements and Sources:  Phil Pagliaro and F. Keith Bingham – Photos and Template; A Living Legend – The History of Cheyney University 1837-1951, Dr. Charlene Conyers; www.cheyney.edu; www.google.com