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Sherri J. Norris

chemical engineer and environmental engineering entrepreneur, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the second of four daughters of Ernest Buford Abron and Bernice Wise Abron, both educators. Abron was educated in Memphis public schools and was a member of the National Honor Society. Abron divorced and had three sons, Frederick, Ernest, and David; she is occasionally credited as Lilia Ann Abron-Robinson.

Abron stayed close to home when she attended LeMoyne College, a historically black college in Memphis, Tennessee. She considered medical school, but she was persuaded by her advisor, Dr. Beuler, to pursue a career in engineering instead. Her decision was a risky one. She did not know of any African Americans with engineering degrees who were actually working as engineers; instead, she once said in an interview, they were often working in post offices. In 1966 Abron received her BS in Chemistry from ...

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Ana Raquel Fernandes

Chemist and phosphorus manufacturer, well known for his philanthropic views, born on 3 March 1811 in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, into a Quaker family. He was the son of William Albright and Rachel Tanner. In 1842 he joined the firm of John and Edward Sturge, manufacturing chemists in Birmingham. He was responsible for the development of Anton Schrotter's (1802–75) method of producing red phosphorus, important for the use of safety matches. This interest grew out of a concern for the health of match workers. In 1854 Albright took over a phosphorus plant previously belonging to the Sturge brothers, in Oldbury, Worcestershire. In 1856 he went into partnership with J. W. Wilson. Their firm survived until the middle of the 20th century.

Throughout his life Albright travelled in Europe Egypt and the United States seeking new sources of raw materials and trying to expand his export trade ...

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William A. Morgan

mechanical engineer and rocket scientist, was born John W. Blanton in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of John O. and Carolyn Blanton.

Blanton attended Purdue University in Indiana, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1943. He began his career at Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York, where he worked from 1943 to 1945 and from 1950 through 1956. Initially involved in the research and development of gas and rocket engines, Blanton helped develop the X‐1, which on 14 October 1947 became the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in a human‐operated, level flight.

Two years after marrying Corinne Jones of Mississippi in 1943, Blanton was named the chief engineer of thermo and fluid dynamics at Frederick Flader Incorporated, in Buffalo, New York, where he worked for five years. In 1956 he joined General Electric in Evendale Ohio and continued to make ...

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Anne K. Driscoll

pilot, Tuskegee Airman, civil servant, teacher, and juvenile probation officer, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the youngest child of Georgia Crane and Earl Bohannon, occupations unknown. Bohannon was the youngest of ten children, although only his oldest sister and a brother were alive when Bohannon was born. One of his greatest influences growing up was his mother, who taught him the importance of principles, hard work, and honesty.

Bohannon began working at eight years of age in a hardware store His next job was working on a laundry truck It was the laundry job that ultimately led Bohannon to his dream of becoming an aviator Bohannon stopped twice a week at Atlanta s Candler Field later William B Hartsfield Airport While picking up the aviators laundry he listened to the pilots discussing their flights the difficulties of flying in adverse weather conditions and other matters that inspired him to ...

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author, chemist, physician, scientist, and civil rights activist, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, to James Calloway and Marietta Oglesby. Nathaniel attended elementary and secondary school in Tuskegee, and in 1926 he received a fellowship to enroll at Iowa State University. While there he earned his BS in Chemistry in 1930 and obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1933. Calloway's dissertation was titled, “Condensation Reactions of Furfural and Its Derivatives.” Upon graduation he returned to Tuskegee, where he led the department of chemistry at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1935. Then he taught in Fisk University's chemistry department until 1940. In 1933 Calloway married, and he and his wife eventually had four children.

In 1940 Calloway moved to Chicago and began the daunting task of being an instructor of pharmacology and a medical student at the same time Upon learning that he would not be ...

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Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Nathaniel Calloway was a man of many talents. He started his career as a chemist, graduating from Iowa State University (then College) in 1930 and earning his Ph.D. in 1933. After publishing influential research and teaching at both Tuskegee Institute and Fisk University, Calloway decided to enter medical school. In 1940 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, but, denied the opportunity to treat white patients, he transferred to the University of Illinois, from which he received his M.D. in 1943.

After World War II (1939–1945)—during which he conducted research on recuperation theories—Calloway worked at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, ultimately becoming its director. In 1949 he founded an all-black group practice, and throughout the next fifteen years he combined his medical work with civil rights activism. From 1955 to 1960 Calloway served as president of the Chicago ...

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aviator, was born in Newport, Arkansas, a farming community on the banks of the White River. Although the names of his parents are now unknown, Coffey recalled in 1993 that “my daddy was a railroad man in the days when an Afro-American could hook a train together and drive a locomotive from the roundhouse to the station, but he could never become a full-fledged engineer” (Chicago Tribune, 25 July 1993). Cornelius Coffey, however, would spend a large portion of his life suspended in the air operating the controls of an airplane. This was a time when even to dream of being a pilot was considered preposterous for a black youth growing up in segregated Arkansas. In order to escape such limitations imposed on blacks in the Jim Crow South, the family sought new opportunities first in Nebraska, and then ultimately in Chicago in 1923.

Shortly after ...

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Robert C. Hayden

mechanical engineer and inventor, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Dr. David Nelson Crosthwait and Minnie Harris. He attended elementary school and graduated from high school in Kansas City, Missouri.

Crosthwait received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1913. That same year he began lifelong employment with the C. A. Dunham Company (later Dunham-Bush) in Chicago, where he distinguished himself nationally in the field of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) technology. By 1915 he had been appointed to the position of engineering supervisor, and by 1919 he had risen to the position of research engineer. In 1920 Crosthwait received an MS in Engineering from Purdue.

In 1925 Crosthwait became director of research at Dunham, overseeing heat-transfer research, steam-transport research, and temperature-control systems. In 1930 he was designated a senior technical consultant and adviser at Dunham-Bush. Crosthwait married E. Madolyn Towels in 1930 ...

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Debra A. Varnado

educator, was born in Jacksonville, Texas, the fifth of seven children of George W. Crouch, a Methodist minister, and Mary Ragsdale Crouch. Known by the nickname “Red,” Crouch graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Jacksonville in 1923, but his family would relocate twenty-six miles to the north in Tyler, Texas, which he considered his hometown.

In Tyler, the Crouches lived in a home with a view of Texas College, a historically black school run by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (later known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church). In 1927 Crouch earned a BA in Biology from Texas College His father an elder in the church wanted him to teach at the school after graduation Instead Crouch left for Dallas for a brief but lucrative stint selling insurance Crouch would later forgo insurance sales for a future in science and education applying to graduate school ...

Article

Robert G. McGuire

Born a slave in Georgia on August 14, 1858, Andrew Franklin Hilyer was taken to Nebraska as a child by his mother. At her death he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was befriended by the wealthy Gale and Pillsbury families. In 1882 he graduated from the University of Minnesota. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he received his LL.B. (bachelor of laws) in 1884 and his LL.M. (master of laws) in 1885 from Howard University. In 1886 he married Mamie Elizabeth Nichols a descendant of free blacks who had lived in the Washington area for several generations The Hilyers had two sons Gale P and Franklin and one daughter Kathleen Hilyer served as a Class II clerk in the Treasury Department and later as a member of the Interior Department Division of the General Accounting Office Seven years after the death of his first wife ...

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Pamela C. Edwards

entrepreneur, inventor, and activist, was born in Monterey, Virginia, to George Emmanuel Stewart, a teacher, and Annie Dougherty Stewart, a housewife. The couple had thirteen children, but only four daughters lived beyond infancy. After relocating their family to Dayton, Ohio, Stewart's parents divorced and, in 1912, she moved to Chicago to live with her mother. In Chicago, Stewart attended Edgewood High School, worked temporary jobs, and, on 4 April 1916, she married Dr. Robert Joyner, a podiatrist from Memphis, Tennessee. The couple had two daughters: Anne Joyner Fook and Barbara Joyner Powell, who both became educators. At some point during her early Chicago years, Stewart made the decision to become a beautician and that decision would shape her future.

Joyner became the first black graduate of the A.B. Molar Beauty School in 1916 and she opened her own beauty shop ...

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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

chemist and corporate leader, was born in Pavo, Georgia, the second of three daughters of Willie Clark and Ola Watts Campbell. Her mother Ola had a third-grade education, and her father Willie was illiterate. Reatha was raised in Moltrie, Georgia, by her mother and aunt after her parents separated when she was young. She had to pick cotton and do the heavy fieldwork that was the typical life in the 1940s for poor sharecroppers' children. African American girls in the rural segregated South had few role models, but she received strong encouragement from her family and community to use her academic ability to overcome social disadvantages.

Clark started school at the age of four in the one room schoolhouse at Mount Zion Baptist Church Clark attended the segregated Moultrie High School for Negro Youth A teacher there encouraged her love of math and science even though the school ...

Article

Caroline M. Brown

aviator and aeronautical engineer, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the third son of Alma (Price) Loving, a homemaker and housekeeper, and Hardin Clay Loving, a railroad conductor and optometrist. Neal Loving had an early love of aviation that remained with him despite family objections. Although he changed elementary schools frequently owing to his family's poverty and related evictions, he read every aviation book and magazine at nearby branches of the Detroit Public Library and raced to watch passing airplanes during school hours. At a schoolteacher's suggestion, he acquired an application for the U.S. Air Corps at the nearest post office, and read it avidly. Deterred by its unequivocal statement that applicants were to be “white, male,” he threw away the application and continued to explore. He saved his lunch and movie admission money to buy model airplane materials, and, when the Detroit City Airport opened in 1929 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian political activist and journalist, was born Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay on 14 November 1864 in Lagos, Nigeria. He was the seventh child of Thomas Babington Macaulay, founder and principal of the Church Missionary Society Grammar School in Lagos, and Abigail Crowther Macaulay, daughter of the first Anglican bishop in West Africa, Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Macaulay received an outstanding primary and secondary education thanks to his affluent family, and he attended the renowned St. Paul’s school in Breadfruit. In 1881 he joined the Nigerian colonial administration as a clerk. He served in this capacity for the next nine years, and his intelligence and loyalty impressed his British superiors. Governor of Nigeria Alfred Moloney supported Macaulay’s efforts to further his education in England, and Macaulay received a scholarship to study engineering in Plymouth. From 1890 to 1893 the young Nigerian excelled in school and developed a lifelong interest in Western ...

Article

Influential political activist and founder member of the Nigerian National Democratic Party. The son of distinguished African missionaries, Macaulay was educated at the Church Missionary Society grammar school founded by his father. After completing his education in 1881, he entered the civil service. In 1890 he travelled to England, where he became the first Nigerian to qualify as a civil engineer. On his return to Lagos, he was appointed as a surveyor but soon became dissatisfied with the system, which discriminated against African civil servants. In 1898 he left the civil service to go into private practice as a licensed surveyor and architect but his business never proved to be a success In financial difficulties Macaulay misappropriated funds and was sentenced to two years imprisonment effectively barring him from public office Nevertheless he grew to be an influential figure in Nigerian politics through his staunch editorials for the ...

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Olivia A. Scriven

mathematician, educator, and activist, was born Vivienne Lucille Malone in Waco, Texas. Her parents, Pizarro Ray Malone and Vera Estelle (Allen) Malone, both worked as public school teachers and stressed the importance of education as a pathway to advancement and opportunity.

After graduating from the racially segregated A.J. Moore High School in 1948 at the age of sixteen, young Vivienne attended Fisk University, a historically black institution in Nashville, Tennessee. She wanted to become a doctor and might have achieved that goal had she not met and married James Jeffries Mayes, a dental student. Her husband-to-be convinced her that the professional demands of two doctors in the family would be a strain on them personally. So she switched her major from pre-med to mathematics. The decision proved fortuitous. During her junior year in 1950 the university hired two mathematicians who would serve as mentors ...

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Audra J. Wolfe

geneticist and physician, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of Robert Fulton and Henrietta Frances (Judd) Murray. Murray stayed close to home for most of his education, completing a BS with a pre-med concentration from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1953, before proceeding to the University of Rochester School of Medicine for his MD in 1958. Murray married Isobel Ann Parks on 26 August 1956, while still in medical school. Their marriage produced four children: Colin Charles, Robert Fulton III, Suzanne Frances, and Dianne Akwe.

After completing medical school, Murray and his wife moved to Denver, Colorado, where he began a long career in clinical medicine. He completed an internship at Denver General Hospital (1958–1959) before moving on to the University of Colorado Medical Center for a residency in internal medicine (1959–1962 For ...

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astrophysicist and university administrator, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker Sr., a lawyer, and Hilda Forte, a social worker. At age five his family moved to New York City. Thanks to his mother, who recognized the boy's fondness for science and repeatedly intervened to prevent teachers from discouraging him, Walker enrolled in the Bronx High School of Science, where his interest in chemistry and physics heightened. In 1957 he graduated with honors in physics from the Case Institute of Technology (later Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, in 1955, and to Sigma Xi, a scientific research society, in 1960. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with the aid of fellowships and a research assistantship, Walker earned his master's degree in 1958 and a doctorate ...

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Charles W. Jr. Carey

meteorologist, was born in Portland, Oregon, to Edwin Washington, a railroad porter, and Dorothy Morton, a homemaker. He became interested in science in high school, but his interests shifted during his senior year from chemistry to physics, which he majored in at Oregon State University in Corvallis. His interest in meteorology stemmed from a job he held as an undergraduate at a weather radar installation near Corvallis that tracked storms from the Pacific Ocean as they hit the Oregon coast. After receiving a BS in Physics in 1958 and an MS in Meteorology in 1960, he entered the graduate program at Pennsylvania State University, receiving a PhD in Meteorology in 1964. That same year, he accepted a full-time position as a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, where he had worked the previous summer.

As a graduate student ...

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Mary A. Waalkes

civil rights activist, was born in Attapulgus, Georgia, to an unwed teenage mother who died while Williams was still a child. Raised in poverty by his grandparents, Williams left home at age fourteen and wandered for a period of time before joining the army to serve during World War II. Returning as a wounded veteran, he endured further physical assault at the hands of Georgia whites who severely beat him for drinking from a water fountain.

Using his veteran's benefits, Williams gained a master's degree in Chemistry from Atlanta University and worked until 1963 for the Department of Agriculture in Savannah, Georgia. Williams married Juanita Terry and settled into a middle-class lifestyle. Anguish at not being able to purchase sodas for his sons in a drugstore provided the emotional trigger that launched Williams into civil rights activism in the 1950s.

Williams maintained his job with the Department of Agriculture ...