Paine College was founded by the leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now United Methodist Church, and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, now Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Paine was the brainchild of Bishop Lucius Henry Holsey, who first expressed the idea for the College in 1869. Bishop Holsey asked leaders in the ME Church South to help establish a school to train Negro teachers and preachers so that they might in turn appropriately address the educational and spiritual needs of the people newly freed from the evils of slavery. Leaders in the ME Church South agreed, and Paine Institute came into being.
Frank Yerby a native of Augusta received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Paine College in 1937 and in 1938 he received a Master’s of Arts degree from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. As a student at Paine College, Yerby wrote the Paine College Hymn also known as the Paine College Alma Mater. During his career as an author Yerby published more than thirty novels. He was the first African American to write a best-selling novel and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation.