National Colored Teachers' Agency, Louisville, KYAt the end of the 19th Century, teacher employment agencies developed in the United States, and in 1914, the National Association of Teachers' Agencies (NATA) was formed by the National Education Association (NEA), which was segregated. The NATA members were school-related agencies only; membership was not open to commercial teachers' employment agencies. All of the agencies had the dual role of finding employment for educators and directing employers to the best educators.
African American teachers belonged to the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools (NATCS), founded in 1904. Predating NATCS was the development of the commercial colored teachers' employment agencies in the late 1800s. The agencies flourished around 1915 when numerous agency ads could be found in issues of the Crisis. Around 1930, the number of ads and agencies was greatly reduced with the onset of the Great Depression. In June of 1930, Marion C. Davis sent a letter to the Crisis inquiring as to where she might find a colored teachers' agency or bureau; it had been a while since there were agency ads in the Crisis [read digital image of letter online].
The colored teachers' employment agencies were independent of one another and had slight name variations, such as the Interstate Colored Teachers' Agency in Richmond, VA; the Southern Colored Teachers' Agency located in Dallas, formerly the Texas Colored Teachers' Agency; the Colored Teachers' Agency in Washington, D.C., one of the oldest agencies; and the Colored Teachers' Agency in Alabama. In 1928, the National Colored Teachers' Agency in Louisville, KY, was located at 632 W. Walnut Street. This particular agency was a division of the National Teachers' Agency in Louisville. Jesse B. Colbert (1861-1936) was the general manager of the colored division. Colbert placed ads in publications such as the Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association that read, "Now is the time to enroll for a position for the next school term. We secure positions for teachers in any state in the Union desired."-- [source: Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, issue 04/18-21/1928, p. 19].
Jesse B. Colbert was an agent for the colored division of the National Teachers' Agency while also an employee of the National Employment Bureau in Louisville [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville]. The National Employment Bureau was a free employment service provided by the government. The National Colored Teachers' Agency was a business that charged fees. It is not known how long the National Colored Teachers' Agency existed in Louisville. See also the NKAA Database entry Colored Bureau of Education, an earlier teachers' employment agency in Frankfort, KY.