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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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Pamela Blackmon

physicist, inventor, and educator, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the eldest of two sons of Arletta (Dixon) Alcorn and George Alcorn, an auto mechanic. Little is known of his early life. George Alcorn Jr. earned a BA in Physics in 1962 from Occidental College in Pasadena, California, where he excelled both academically and athletically, earning eight letters in football and baseball. His educational pursuits took him next to Howard University, where he received a master's degree in Nuclear Physics after only nine months of study. During the summers of 1962 and 1963 Alcorn worked as a research engineer at the space division of North American Rockwell, where he computed trajectories and orbital mechanics for missiles, including the Titan I and II, the Saturn IV, and the Nova.

From 1965 to 1967 Alcorn researched negative ion formation with funded support from the National Aeronautics and Space ...

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Charles E. Wynes

Alexander, Archie Alphonso (14 May 1888–04 January 1958), engineer was born in Ottumwa Iowa the son of Price Alexander a janitor and coachman and Mary Hamilton The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie s birth and in Des Moines Iowa where they moved when he was eleven years old In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor both black and white in Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town Since Iowa s public schools were not segregated young Alexander attended school with whites graduating from Des Moines s Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents ...

Article

Charles E. Wynes

engineer, was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, the son of Price Alexander, a janitor and coachman, and Mary Hamilton. The Alexanders were members of a tiny African American minority both in the town of Archie's birth and in Des Moines, Iowa, where they moved when he was eleven years old. In Ottumwa the Alexanders lived in the section of town inhabited by the poor, both black and white. In Des Moines they lived on a small farm on the outskirts of town. Since Iowa's public schools were not segregated, Alexander attended school with whites, and he graduated from Des Moines's Oak Park High School in 1905 Then uncommon for the son of a janitor whether black or white he went on to further study By working hard at part time jobs and with some help from his parents Alexander attended Highland Park College and the Cummins Art ...

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Ginny Crosthwait

professor and educationaladministrator, was born Rosie Elizabeth Allen in Americus, Georgia, to Ulysses Grant Allen and Velma Douglas Allen. After completing a BS in Biology at Albany State College in Georgia, Allen-Noble taught in three Georgia high schools: the Vienna High and Industrial School (1960–1961), West Point High School (1962–1963), and Carver High School in Columbus (1963–1964). She also served as chairperson of the biology department at Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia, from 1965 to 1970. Allen-Noble and Daniel Bernard Noble married in April 1964 and divorced in April 1968. They have one child, Antoinette Celine Noble-Webb.

While working on a master's degree in zoology at Atlanta University, Allen-Noble taught courses in biology, anatomy, and physiology at Spelman College, also in Atlanta (1965–1966). She completed the MS in 1967. From 1970 to 1976 she ...

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Thomas O. Fox and Jocelyn Spragg

scientist and educator, was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children, to Howard R. Amos Sr., a Philadelphia postman, and Iola Johnson, who had been adopted by and worked for a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family who schooled her with their own children at home. This family remained lifelong friends of Iola and kept the young Amos family well supplied with books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur, which piqued Harold's interest in science in the fourth grade. Both Howard and Iola expected their children to be serious about their education and to excel academically. Harold, along with his siblings, took piano lessons and remained a competent amateur pianist. He also gained a reputation as an excellent tennis player.

Harold received his early education in a segregated school in Pennsauken then graduated first in his class from Camden High School in New Jersey He ...

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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

physical organic chemist and pioneer F-19 synthetic organic chemist, was born in Altheimer, Arkansas, one of six children of parents who were sharecroppers. Her father, Charlie Long, had a third-grade education and her mother, Elsie Lee Foggie Long, a tenth-grade education. Gloria entered school at age four already able to read. She attended the segregated schools in Arkansas, which had all-black faculty who encouraged the students to succeed.

Anderson graduated from Altheimer Training (High) School in 1954 at the age of sixteen She had no choice as to where to attend college as going to college out of state was financially impossible and at this time there were no affirmative action admissions to college so in state student admissions would have taken precedence over out of state black student admissions At the time Arkansas A M now called the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was the only college ...

Article

David De Clue

astronaut, was born Michael Phillip Anderson in Plattsburgh, New York, to Barbara and Andy “Bobby” Anderson. Because his father was a member of the United States Air Force, young Anderson moved regularly until the family settled in Spokane, Washington, in the 1960s. It was there that he attended public schools and became fascinated with America's space race. Michael would wear goggles when cutting lawns because he knew that he needed to protect his eyes in order to be an astronaut.

After high school Anderson went to the University of Washington, where in 1981 he received a bachelor of science degree in Physics and Astronomy, and then went to Creighton University, where he received a master of science degree in Physics in 1990 As an undergraduate he received pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and as a postgraduate he piloted KC 130 and T 38 transport ...

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Caroline M. Fannin

Despite gender and race discrimination, and despite the small numbers of black women active in aviation, black women have contributed notably to the encouragement of black Americans’ participation in aviation and to the furtherance of aerospace research.

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Betty Kaplan Gubert

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the dream of flying became a reality and the nation's expectations of the new technology were enormous—some thought it would even eliminate warfare. African Americans hoped to enter this new arena, in part to put to rest society's deeply held belief that blacks were an inferior race. In 1992, however, the Organization of Black Airline Pilots stated that only 600 of the nation's 70,000 commercial airline pilots were African American. The number rises when private and military pilots are considered, but numbers remain small.

The earliest African American pilot is thought to have been Charles Wesley Peters in 1911. Eugene J. Bullard (1894–1961) was the only black fighter pilot in World War I, having flown for the French. The first black woman to obtain a license (in 1921) was Bessie Coleman (1892–1926 she too had ...

Article

Anne K. Driscoll

meteorologist, was born June Esther Griffin in Wichita, Kansas, the only child of James Griffin, an auto mechanic who put himself through law school and eventually became an attorney, and Cherrie MacSalles, a music teacher. The name she is known by, Bacon-Bercey, is a combination of the last names of her first two husbands. She was married to Walker Bacon, a doctor, from 1956 to 1967 and to John Bercey, a businessman, from 1968 to 1980. Encouraged by her parents, Bacon-Bercey became interested in science at a very young age, and in high school a physics teacher steered her toward a career in meteorology. Bacon-Bercey attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where she earned a BS in Mathematics and Meteorology in 1954 despite the attitude of many of her professors who felt that a woman was better suited to studying home economics ...

Article

Crystal L. Keels

missile engineer, trailblazer, and advocate for social reform, was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Carrie and Chester Banfield. His grandfather Moses was born into slavery and managed to move his family up North. The family moved to Detroit from Dublin, Georgia during the Great Migration and settled in Black Bottom, near the Detroit River. Moses brought his wife, Odessa, who was half Blackfoot Indian, and their five sons and four daughters to live a better life outside of the South.

One of six siblings William Banfield s early interests included a love of learning As a child he was particularly inspired by the story of the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture in Haiti that he read about in an adventure book Reading was an important part of his life and in grammar school he was chosen to represent his school for his work on ...

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

Article

Ronald E. Mickens

mathematician, was born in Hampton, Virginia, the son of William Thaddeus Reid, who taught electricity at Hampton Institute's trade school, and Elaine Brown. Albert had a brother, William M., and a sister, Cora Mae. His strong interest in biology and mathematics led him to enroll at Iowa State University, where such joint disciplinary programs were encouraged. After obtaining his bachelor of science degree in 1949, Reid continued at Iowa State in the graduate program for mathematics and biology, but he left for the University of Chicago in 1950. There he studied mathematical biology, mathematics, probability and statistics, and physics, and he served as a research assistant in the mathematical biology program. In 1953 Reid accepted a position as a research associate in mathematical statistics at Columbia University He did not complete the PhD program at Chicago or Columbia because he did not believe that ...

Article

Rita Kohn

designer, businesswoman, and civic leader, was born Alpha Coles in Lynchburg, Virginia, the youngest of eight children of Alphonso Carroll Coles and Minnie Pugh Coles. Growing up, Blackburn attended a segregated school system, and went on to win a scholarship to Howard University, from which she graduated with honors, attaining a bachelor of arts in Design and a master of fine arts in painting and Art History. In 1964 she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband, Walter Scott Blackburn, who had completed his degree in architecture at Howard. She commenced work as a freelance designer of clothing and interiors.

Blackburn's petite figure and radiant good looks created opportunities for her to model, and she accepted a steady job at the prestigious L. S. Ayres & Company in downtown Indianapolis. Concurrently, she hosted a half‐hour daily talk show from 1972 to 1978, Indy Today on WISH ...

Article

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 ...

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.

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Michelle K. Massie

journalist and historian, was born Franklin Eugene Bolden Jr. in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the eldest of three sons of Franklin Eugene Bolden Sr., the first black mail carrier in the city of Washington, Pennsylvania, and Mary Woods Bolden. Frank Bolden's parents instilled in him the importance of education and achievement at an early age. His father often told him, “When you're average, you are just as far from the bottom as you are from the top” (Rouvalis, Post‐Gazette). With that mentality, Bolden's life was anything but average.

Bolden attended the Washington public school system and graduated from high school in 1930 He went on to attend the University of Pittsburgh where he was the first African American to play in the university s varsity marching and concert bands He said in a documentary film about his life that his audition for the band was ...

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Audra J. Wolfe

chemist and educator, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the eldest son of Thomas Brady, a tobacco factory laborer, and Celester Brady, both of whom were born free around the time of the Civil War. Brady's father, himself illiterate, made sure that all of his children attended school. St. Elmo Brady graduated from high school with honors before enrolling at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1904. At Fisk, he studied with Thomas W. Talley, who was regarded as one of the best chemistry teachers in the black college system.

After graduating from Fisk in 1908 Brady accepted a teaching position at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He quickly became friends with both Booker T. Washington, the institute's first president and leading advocate, and George Washington Carver the scientist famous for his agricultural research on peanuts soybeans sweet potatoes and pecans Brady was deeply impressed ...