colorized portrait of Charles and Jeanette Chipman

Charles H. Chipman

Teacher, Educator, and Principal (1888-1987)

Known fondly as “Professor”, he dedicated his life to the importance of education and left a huge legacy for the community.

Charles Henry Chipman was born on September 5th, 1888 in Cold Spring, New Jersey.1 His parents were James Palmer Chipman of Laurel, DE, and Lena Green Cox Chipman of Cape May, NJ.2 As a boy, he would play on his grandparents’ farm and take part with his father in such activities as raccoon and squirrel hunting.3 US Census records from 1895 and 1900 from Cape May, New Jersey identified Chipman as a student.4 During his youth, he attended Cold Springs Elementary School, and was one of five black children enrolled in the all-white school.5 Charles finished his elementary education requirements during grade seven; after passing a test administered by the state with a score of 100.  He was eventually permitted to enter the ninth grade.6

For high school, Chipman attended West Cape May High School as the first black student at the all-white school due to his superior academic skills. The West Cape May High School was 200 yards from the “colored elementary school”. However, blacks were never permitted to enroll in the high school. This, of course, caused great concern for the Chipmans, as well as other black families with children completing elementary school. Blacks were only allowed to attend Downingtown Industrial High School that was outside of West Cape May. Chipman was accepted into the all-white West Cape May High School after William Moore, the principal of Charles' elementary school, approached the school's white administrators and presented them with his qualifications and academic achievements, asking them to accept the young Chipman there rather than the black school on the other side of town. The administrators were impressed with Chipman's academic talent and convinced him to enroll in the all-white school. Chipman recalls his first day: “The principal called an assembly early that morning. I had to sit up front, so that they could all see me. Then the principal said, ‘We have our first black student enrolled in our school. He has done splendid work in our elementary school right beside us.”7 In 1905, when Chipman was 16 years old and still enrolled in West Cape May, the New Jersey state census reported that his occupation was identified as farmer.8

close-up of a yearbook page with a handsome young man dressed in a suit. The words read: CHARLES H CHIPMAN. West Cape May, NJ, West Cape May High School '11. "Be silent and safe - silence never betrays you." Track team, 1912-13. Journalist of Senior Class, 1914-15.
Charles Chipman’s senior photo at Howard University, 1914-15.9

His high school speech, "Let Us Be Square with Everyone, Regardless of Race," which he delivered as the class salutatorian, was so well received by the community that they covered his tuition at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1915, Chipman received his degree from Howard University. Between 1912 and 1913, he competed on the track team. From 1914 to 1915, he worked as a senior-class journalist. "Be silent and safe — silence never betrays you," was his senior yearbook quote.10 German was one of Chipman's favorite subjects. He was urged and given permission to study sophomore German while in the freshman class because he spoke and wrote the language so well. He received degrees in mathematics, language, education, and black history from Howard University.11

After graduating from Howard University, Chipman studied in Heidelberg, Germany for two terms, where he was taught to speak, write, and interpret four languages — French, Greek, Spanish, and German.12 Soon thereafter, Chipman was offered a faculty position at Tuskegee College in Alabama. However, he declined the offer from Tuskegee College and in 1915 chose to take a supervising principal position at Salisbury's Industrial High School, a historically black institution.13 Within a few years he changed this vocally oriented school into what he calls “a first-class high school, the first on the Shore and maybe one of the first in the state.”14

After passing the state qualifying exam and accepting the job at Salisbury High School, Charles Chipman, known as the “Professor” by his students, remained at the school for 46 years as the principal.15 Inauguration of the Salisbury Industrial High School took place in 1907. It was a coed, three-year institution. The school's curriculum included instruction in math, English, history, industrial arts, home economics, agriculture, and other specialized subjects.16 At the high school, Chipman taught a variety of subjects, such as math, chemistry, business, Latin, and industrial arts. He was also in charge of security and building maintenance at the all-black institution.17 Chipman continued his education by receiving a master of art degree from the University of Pennsylvania, along with a doctorate from Chicago University. Chipman was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Salisbury State College.18 During his time at Salisbury State College, Chipman majored in the Doctor of Laws discipline.19

black and white photograph shows the couple standing a foot apart, each in an overcoat, posing for the camera with modest smiles
Dr. and Mrs. Chipman standing together in front of a door to an unidentified building; undated photo.20
Six people pose in a line for the camera in a backyard setting, all smiling brightly
Photograph of Charles and Jeanette Chipman (second and third from left).21

Both Charles and his wife Jeanette Chipman were highly involved in community groups serving in various capacities and roles for the betterment of the community. Charles Chipman was a member and former president of the board of trustees for the Wesley Temple Church, along with serving on the administrative board, stewardship committee, and nominating committee. Chipman also represented the state of Maryland on the Freedom Day Committee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition, he was a member and former president of the Maryland Education Association. His other memberships and roles included: the Retired Teachers Associations of Maryland and Wicomico County; director of the Federal Credit Union of America; member of the Wicomico Nursing Home; the Wicomico County Welfare Board; the American Red Cross; the Historical Society of Newtown; the National American Negro Teachers Association and the Maryland and National Teachers Association; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Chipman Foundation, and lastly, the American Association of Retired Persons.22 As a member of the Retired Teachers Associations of Maryland and Wicomico County, Chipman taught black history at Salisbury State College from 1 to 3 pm.23 In addition, Chipman accepted the role of vice president of the National American Negro Teachers Association, which encompassed the states of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. He was credited with playing a significant role in the construction of the first black statue in the state of Maryland while serving as president of the Colored Teachers Association of Maryland.24

Certificate from the Boy Scouts of America on yellowed paper which reads "This is to Certify that THE JOHN WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH ... is hereby granted this annual charter... Boy Scout Troop #115, SALISBURY, MD." One of the members listed of the Troop Committee is CHAS. H. CHIPMAN, [CHAIRMAN].
Boy Scouts of America Certificate, 1942.25

Through the Boys Scouts of America and their objectives of character building, Americanization, and citizenship training, Chipman also played a significant role in helping to prepare the youth of Salisbury. Chipman was a Boy Scouts of America committee member who oversaw Salisbury, Maryland's Boy Scout Troop #115 as its chairman. The John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church served as the Boy Scout troop headquarters throughout his time there (now known as the Chipman Cultural Center).26

The Chipman couple resided on 107 Second Street in the west side neighborhood of Salisbury, Wicomico County, MD; however, in earlier years, according to the 1930 U.S. Census, the couple resided at 211 Second Street. Additionally, according to the Census, Charles Chipman worked as the high school principal and Jeanette Chipman as a teacher.27

Between 1931 and 1933, mob outbursts were frequent on the Eastern Shore. Three people who came to be known as the "Three Jameses" — James F. Stewart, Reverend James M. Dickerson, and James L. Johnson — attributed these outbursts on the activities of Baltimore lawyer Bernard Ades for the International Labor Defense. The Salisbury Times published their assertion on December 6, 1933. Nineteen Salisbury residents, however, refuted the assertion and said that the three men did not speak for the community, and that it was irresponsible of them to place the blame on the lawyer while failing to provide more effective measures to further prevent further rioting behavior. Charles Chipman's name was listed as the twentieth signer on the declaration, but he contacted the newspaper The Afro-American and informed them that he had not given permission for the use of his name and was not involved with the matter.28

In 1961, Charles Chipman retired from the education industry where he closed out his career being the principal at Salisbury High School. In 1961, the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper saluted him as “Man of the Year.” Recognizing his outstanding contributions to the county and state. Salisbury State College awarded him an honorary doctorate in May 1974.29

In retirement, Chipman continued to be involved in civic activities at the local and state level. He sat on the boards of numerous Wicomico County organizations, along with serving as an official on the State Credit Union for Maryland. He continued to be actively involved with the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations. In addition, he served as members of the Board of Christian Social Concern of the Methodist Church and the Welfare Board of Salisbury.30

After retiring from his educational career, Chipman focused his attention on another initiative where he donated the building and property of the former John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church for use as a cultural center and established the Chipman Foundation to oversee the center’s restoration and operations.31 He purchased and donated the building to establish a cultural and community center, where culture, art, and black history could be displayed and shared in Salisbury.32 The church is located within Broad Street at the junction with Church Street. In 1903, the church received a deed through its trustee Jay Williams to reclaim the property.33

Historical Photo of John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, now the home of the Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center.34
Front exterior of the Chipman Center in the 1990s.35

As a mark of appreciation for his seven decades of active involvement, leadership, and council in religious, community, and educational activities in Salisbury, W. Paul Martin, the city's mayor, proclaimed June 25, 1983, as (Prof.) Dr. Charles H. Chipman Day. The ceremony also recognized his founding of high school programs for Salisbury's black students as well as his improvements to teacher training and instruction in the county and state.36

On November 22, 1987, Charles Chipman at age 99, died from cardiac arrest at the Jenkins Memorial Nursing Home in Baltimore, Maryland.37 His wife of 71 years, Jeanette Chipman, had passed away a month prior on October 14, 1987 at the age of 92. Similarly, she died due to cardiac arrest at the Salisbury Nursing Home.38 Both of their funeral services were at the Wesley Temple Church and internment at the Green Acres Memorial Park. At the time of Charles and Jeanette Chipman’s death, they had a surviving daughter, along with two granddaughters and two great-granddaughters.39

The Chipmans will be remembered as prominent fixtures in the Salisbury community as educators and community leaders for their contributions to the African-American people in Salisbury, Maryland.

A typewritten certificate with an official City Seal of Salisbury Maryland and signature of the mayor, W. Paul MartinView larger image at the Chipman Archive ↗️

Mayoral Proclamation of Dr. Charles H. Chipman Day, 1983.

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Chicago Style

Chicago Style citation will appear here

June 17, 2023
David, Brandon
  1. US World War I Draft Registration Card. 1917.
  2. “Charles Chipman Childhood.” The Salisbury Times, February 23, 1981.
  3. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “Autobiography of Dr. Charles Henry Chipman.” Memories of Salisbury High School. 1932.
  4. US Census - 1895 and 1900.
  5. “Charles Chipman Childhood,” The Salisbury Times, February 23, 1981.
  6. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “Autobiography of Dr. Charles Henry Chipman.” Memories of Salisbury High School. 1932.
  7. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “Autobiography of Dr. Charles Henry Chipman.” Memories of Salisbury High School. 1932.
  8. Charles Chipman’s occupation as a farmer in West Cape May, New Jersey, New Jersey Census 1905.
  9. Howard University. 1915. Charles H. Chipman Yearbook photo. January 1, 1915.
  10. “Charles Chipman Graduation Profile.” The Mirror: (Howard University Teachers College, Washington DC, 1915), 36.
  11. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “Autobiography of Dr. Charles Henry Chipman.” Memories of Salisbury High School. 1932.
  12. “Dr. Charles H. Chipman Is Outstanding Man.” The Salisbury Times, February 23, 1981,
  13. “Chipman Education.” The Salisbury Times, October 1, 1986.
  14. “Salisbury hustling, optimistic mini-city looking to future,” The Baltimore Sun, May 10, 1974,
  15. “Charles Chipman Death.” The Salisbury Times, November 25, 1987.
  16. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “School History.” Memories of Salisbury High School.
  17. “Chipman Education 2.” The Salisbury Times, February 23, 1986.
  18. “Charles Chipman Death.” The Salisbury Times, November 25, 1987.
  19. Grayford, Norman C. “Charles H. Chipman Doctor of Laws Degree.” Salisbury State College.
  20. Nabb Research Center. 2020. Dr. and Mrs. Charles Chipman, undated.
  21. Nabb Research Center. 2020. Charles and Jeanette Chipman with a Group of Women.
  22. Ibid.
  23. “Dr. Chipman To Teach A Course For The Retired.” The Salisbury Times, November 19, 1977,
  24. Mitchell, Judy Lynn, “Dr. Charles H. Chipman Is Outstanding Man.” The Salisbury Times, February 23, 1981,
  25. “Boy Scouts of America Certification.” Boy Scouts of America. April 30, 1942.
  26. “Boy Scouts of America Certification.” Boy Scouts of America. April 30, 1942.
  27. Charles and Jeanette Chipman as high school employees, teacher and principal in Salisbury, Wicomico County, Maryland, US Census 1930.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Mitchell, Judy Lynn. “Autobiography of Dr. Charles Henry Chipman.” Memories of Salisbury High School.
  30. “51 YEARS IN CLASSROOM.” 1966. Afro-American (1893-), Oct 8, 1966. (accessed November 15, 2022).
  31. Duyer, Linda. 'Round the Pond: Georgetown of Salisbury, Maryland: A History of the Georgetown and Cuba Neighborhood Communities Collectively Known as Georgetown. Salisbury, Md.?: Linda Duyer, 2007.
  32. Duck, Bill. “A dream being fulfilled: Dr. Chipman’s church gets a new life.” The Daily Times, April 7, 1991,
  33. John Wesley Broad Street Salisbury, Maryland, Deed
  34. Historic Photo of John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, Current home of Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center. 2022. Association of Research Libraries.
  35. Nabb Research Center. 2020. The Front Exterior of the Chipman Center, 1990s.
  36. W. Paul Martin. Proclamation. “Proclamation of Dr. Charles H. Chipman day, 1983.” City of Salisbury, June 25, 1983.
  37. “Charles Chipman Death.” The Salisbury Times, November 25, 1987,
  38. “Jeanette Chipman: Salisbury High Teacher.” The Sun (1837-), Oct 18, 1987.
  39. “Charles Chipman Death.” The Salisbury Times, November 25, 1987,