Latta University

Written By Judith Guest

Founded by Reverend Morgan London Latta in 1892, Latta University was a school and orphanage for former slaves’ children in Raleigh, North Carolina. It operated until about 1920. At one time, it encompassed 300 acres, according to Latta’s autobiography.

Latta was born in 1853, enslaved on the Cameron Plantation in Durham County. Although enslaved, he obtained some education and eventually became one of Shaw University’s first graduates—in spite of a severe lack of money. After graduation, he held a variety of jobs, from teaching school to selling sewing machines. He was employed by the Lynchburg and Durham Railroad to help persuade residents who would be near the line that the railroad would be safe. (The railroad was formed in 1887.) In 1903 Latta published his autobiography, which tells, among many things, about how he worked to obtain funding for the school.

Latta University and the Latta House were both located in Raleigh’s historic Oberlin Village neighborhood. Efforts to designate the Latta House a historic landmark were foiled when the house was lost to a fire in January 2007. The Latta House was the last remaining historical landmark of the original 26 structures that comprised Latta University. The 2-acre site is currently owned by the City of Raleigh and is a historic park open to the public.