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James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

pioneer in discrediting the racist concepts that characterized early twentieth-century anthropology and other social sciences. Franz Boas was born in Minden, Germany. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Kiel in 1881, but he soon shifted interest into the field of human geography. In 1883 he conducted his first fieldwork, among the Inuit people of Baffin Island. In 1887 he began research among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. In 1899 he became the first professor of anthropology at Columbia University. When Boas began his anthropological work, anthropology was far from being a scientific field. It was infested with racist practitioners and amateurs. Boas held that too often people developed theories and then sought to gather information to prove their theories.

Article

Daniel Richter

who made seminal contributions to Brazilian national thought primarily through posthumous publications, was born in 1864 in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro, and was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth. Castro’s best-known writings addressed issues of race, gender, and education during the transition from monarchy to republic in the 1880s.

Castro’s mother was likely a slave, and she may have sought to attain her son’s freedom by abandoning him. Leaving behind young children was a rare practice among slaves in Brazil prior to the Law of the Free Womb, passed in 1871 The foundling Castro was taken in and raised by Manoel da Costa Paes a Portuguese businessman and Rio resident Paes arranged for Castro s formal education which included a scholarship for poor students at Rio s elite secondary school Colégio Pedro II After the completion of his secondary studies Castro enrolled at the Faculdade ...

Article

Paul A. Erickson

physical anthropologist and anatomist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Elmer Cobb, a printer, and Alexzine Montague. Experiencing racial segregation in education, he graduated in 1921 from Dunbar High School, an elite college-preparatory school for African Americans. Cobb attended Amherst College, where he pursued a classical education in arts and sciences, graduating in 1925. After graduation he received a Blodgett Scholarship to study biology at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory in Massachusetts. There he met the Howard University biologist Ernest Everett Just and decided to attend Howard University's College of Medicine. At the time, Howard was undergoing a transformation as-its first African American president, Mordecai Johnson, attempted to place the university under greater African American control. Showing great academic promise, Cobb was groomed to become a new member of the faculty. After receiving his medical degree in 1929 he was sent to ...

Article

Jennifer L. Freeman Marshall

anthropologist, educator, sociologist, was born Ellen Irene Diggs in Monmouth, Illinois, to Henry Charles Diggs and Alice Scott. Her working-class parents lived in a community of about ten thousand, about two hundred of whom were black. They supported their precocious child, one of five, who read voraciously and achieved the highest grade average in her school. Recognizing her ability, the Monmouth Chamber of Commerce awarded her a scholarship to attend Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. In 1924 she transferred to the University of Minnesota, which offered a far larger number of courses, where she majored in sociology and minored in psychology. She received an AB degree in 1928 and then attended Atlanta University, a premier institution for the education of African Americans founded in 1865 and located in Atlanta, Georgia. The institution began to offer graduate degrees in 1929 and in 1933 under the direction ...

Article

Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

Article

David Michel

minister and historian, was born one of six children to Elijah John Fisher, a Baptist minister, and Florida Neely in Atlanta, Georgia. His father later pastored the Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, where he had moved his family. The young Fisher grew up in Chicago but was sent to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College where he earned the BA in 1918. He was immediately ordained, but worked for the YMCA as camp secretary. Fisher married Ada Virginia Foster, with whom he would have six children.

In 1919 Fisher returned to Chicago to take over the International Baptist Church. One year later he moved to Racine, Wisconsin, to pastor the Zion Baptist Church. In 1921 he published a short biography of Lott Carey, a pioneer black Baptist missionary to West Africa. In 1922 Fisher earned the BD and thus became the first black graduate of Northern Baptist ...

Article

Katrina D. Thompson

chemist, social scientist, and writer, was born in Garfield Heights, Washington, D.C., the son of William Harrison Lewis and Mary (Over) Lewis, of whom little else is known. In 1899 there were only four academic public schools in the segregated Washington, D.C., area, and only one of these was open to African Americans. Lewis attended the noted Dunbar High School, then known as M Street School. Because African Americans with advanced degrees had few other opportunities, during the 1920s three Dunbar teachers held the PhD degree, which was certainly unusual and perhaps unique in American public secondary education.

After attending Dunbar, Lewis graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1925 While at Brown Lewis became the first undergraduate initiate of the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the first African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Two years after graduating ...

Article

Vernon J. Williams

biologist, university administrator, and public policy maker, was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of James Madison Nabrit, a Baptist minister and educator, and Augusta Gertrude West. The elder Nabrit, who taught at Central City College and later at Walker Baptist Institute, encouraged his son to prepare for a career in higher education by studying Latin, Greek, and physics. Samuel rounded out his education by playing football and baseball, and honed his managerial and journalistic skills working on his high school (and later college) student newspaper. He entered Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1921, and after receiving a traditional liberal arts education, was awarded a BS in 1925. Samuel's brother, James Madison Nabrit Jr., was an important aide in the NAACP's legal team during the 1950s. Working closely with Thurgood Marshall in his unsuccessful attempts to begin the desegregation of graduate ...

Article

Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

Article

George Baca

anthropologist, was born Council Samuel Taylor in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Walter Knight Taylor and Odelle Grace Robinson Taylor. “Count,” as his intimates called him, was dynamic, tall, a stylish dresser, and a great storyteller, using his deep voice for dramatic effect. Colleagues, students, and teachers remembered him adorned with a French beret, ascot, and an ornate walking stick.

Taylor passed as a white man during the 1940s. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the marines—well before President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the U S Armed Forces where he saw combat duty with the Air Delivery Squadron and Aviation Supply during World War II A most striking feature of his biography is that as a gay black man Taylor served as a platoon sergeant in aviation supply in several locations in the South Pacific and near China during the war ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

anthropologist, was born into a prosperous, college-educated family, in Waco, Texas. Willis's father, William Willis Sr., the high school principal of an all-black school, resigned that position in protest of what he considered unfair and racially motivated restrictions regarding appropriate behavior for a person in that job. He went on to put his abilities to work as owner of a construction company, building homes for poor African Americans. The Ku Klux Klan drove the family out of Waco in 1923, and they relocated to Dallas.

In 1942 Willis received a BA in History from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and, after serving in World War II, earned his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in 1955. His dissertation, “Colonial Conflict and the Cherokee Indians, 1710–1760 was in that branch of anthropology called ethnohistory Willis continued to pursue the study of relations among Native Americans blacks ...