Materials housed in Special Collections Division of the Main Library, Nashville Public Library.
Housed with George B. Powell Writings.
Restrictions on Access
In library use only. Available by appointment.
Scope and content: Contains information about Buva College Rescue Home and Training School for Negro Children, a private relief organization operated in Nashville, Tenn. by Dr. Moses Mullins. Contains brief financial statements (1946 and 1953); two brochures; publicity materials, including a large illustrated poster/program for a 1947 fundraiser held at War Memorial Auditorium, featuring performances by the Willia Mai Ford Smith, the Waterford Sisters, the “Beloved Buva College Singers,” Louella Frierson, and the Fairfield Four; and most significantly, an extremely detailed report produced by the Tennessee Department of Public Welfare, Division of Child Welfare, during their investigation of the conditions at Buva College in 1947 and 1948. This report, of 84 pages, provides an extraordinarily detailed account of the mission, activities, conditions, children and personnel of Buva College. It contains a history of the home; biographies of adult staff and volunteers; sources of funds, including charitable work on behalf of Buva College by other organizations and churches, such as Belmont Baptist Church; architectural and structural details of the building; overall living conditions including sanitation, diet, recreational facilities, living quarters; religious and educational instruction; financial and social conditions of the institution; the physical and psychological health of the children (as assessed by doctors at Hubbard Hospital (Meharry) and the Psychology Department at Fisk University); intake and discharge practices, including some case studies (with participants unidentified); statistical information about the residents; and much more.
Researchers are advised that no records in this small collection document individual children or clients by name.
Preferred Citation of Described Materials
Cite as: Buva College Records, Special Collections Division, Nashville Public Library
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Nashville Public Library does not have intellectual property rights to these materials. This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code). Report from Division of Child Welfare is in public domain.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Tennessee Dept. of Human Services, Family Assistance Division;,Gift;,2006.,Acc. 2006.051.
Location of Other Archival Materials
Related Materials: An oral history interview with Mary Frances Berry, a former resident of Buva College, can be found in the Civil Rights Oral History Project in the Special Collections Division of the Nashville Public Library.
Biographical or Historical Data
Buva College was established in 1911 by Dr. Moses F. Mullins to care for indigent, neglected, orphaned, or disadvantaged Negro children. It remained the only such facility (public or private) in Nashville for African-Americans, until at least as late as 1946. Mullins’ work filled a need in the community, and he was frequently commended for his efforts, although upon numerous occasions in the 1940s and 1950s, the home was found inadequate, judged a fire and health hazard, and operated without a state license. The latter situation landed Mullins in court several times, and he was represented in 1948 by future Nashville mayor, Ben West. Ultimately the matter was appealed to the State Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the State Department of Welfare as having the authority to require a license. It is unclear what the ultimate outcome of the case was after this decision. Buva College continued to operate in some form at least as late as 1954, when in August the children were removed to the Negro School for the Blind, as the only city, county, or state agency in the vicinity designated to care for black children. What happened during the next ten years is uncertain, but in 1966 the courts issued an injunction for Buva to cease the intake of new cases. Again in 1973, the home was accused of operating without a license, but any further action became moot when the home burned down on Feb. 12, 1974; there were no serious injuries.
Biographical or Historical Data
Dr. Mullins, with his brother, Leonard, originally began the home with proceeds from their hair and beauty supply business, and envisioned a beauty college to provide instruction to youth, although it seems the latter goal was never fully realized. The home emphasized Christian religious instruction, and cared for children from infant through age 19, with as many as 50 individuals receiving care at one time, many of them in day programs. Mullins’s wife, Minta, operated the home after Moses’s death in 1968, and his brother, Leonard continued to be involved, as well. Originally known as Vole Buva, Inc., Buva College incorporated in 1918. It was located in the 600 block of Seventh Avenue South until 1937, when it moved to 1201 Laurel Street, where it remained. In 1923, the original charter was withdrawn, and a new charter was drawn up in 1932 under the name of the National Help-U Association, although this remained a strictly local organization, despite its name. The charter was amended in 1944 to care for children, but did not receive approval from the State Department of Public Welfare, thus resulting in the numerous legal challenges faced by the organization for the duration of its existence. The home was known by several names throughout its existence: Buva College; Buva College Christian Rescue Home and Training School; Buva College Rescue Christian Training Home; Buva College Rescue Home and Training School for Negro Children; Buva Rescue Home; Buva Rescue Christian Home; and perhaps other variations.
Ownership and Custodial History
Custodial history unknown.
Accumulation and Frequency of Use
No further accruals are expected.