Groundbreaking early African-American women PhDs, a scientist refugee, & more


This impressive group of friends broke a lot of ground. Here they are at the national convention of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1921. The women are delegates from the University of Pennsylvania. In the front, from left to right, are Virginia Alexander (who became a physician), Julia Mae Polk (later Parham – a professor of education), and Sadie Tanner Mossell (later Alexander – the first African-American woman to gain a PhD in economics).

The back row starts with Anna Johnson (later Julian) on the left – more about her shortly. To her right is Nellie Rathbone Bright (an educator, painter, and poet who studied at the Sorbonne and University of Oxford), and Pauline Alice Young (librarian, teacher, and activist – she marched in Selma and on Washington, and worked with W.E.B. DuBois).

In 1937, Anna Roselle Johnson became the first African-American woman to gain a PhD in sociology. She studied factors inhibiting children’s education, and became an influential community leader. She was half of an African-American power couple in Chicago – her husband was Percy Julian, a prominent chemist. The Julians overcame fire-bombing and other concerted opposition to their social progress. Read more in Anna Johnson Julian’s new Wikipedia page.

Ruth Smith Lloyd now has a full Wikipedia page, too. After post-graduate study under Ernest Everett Just at Howard University, in 1941 she became the first African-American woman awarded a PhD in anatomy. She taught at Howard until her retirement, and studied fertility, hormones, and more.

And there’s more to check out since the last post.


New scientists’ images slideshow


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Eva Beatrice Dykes (1893-1996) was the first African-American woman to fulfill the requirements for a PhD in 1921. She was an educator and author, and on the Howard University faculty.

Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980) was the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi and the first to be a member of the American Institute of Architects. He designed public buildings and homes for celebrities.

Lucy Ella Moten (1851-1933) was appointed the principal of Miner Normal School by Frederick Douglass. The school trained African-American teachers. She also graduated as medical doctor from Howard University in 1897.

Charles Henry Thompson (1895-1980) was the first African American to earn a PhD in educational psychology, and the founder of the influential Journal of Negro Education. He was a professor at Howard University, becoming dean, first of liberal arts, and then of the graduate school.

(Anna Johnson Julian and Ruth Smith Lloyd were introduced above.)


Featured scientist needing an image

New scientists’ pages on Wikipedia


Some more scientists Wikipedians have added:

Kona Williams is the first First Nations forensic pathologist in Canada, and she plays a prominent role in bridging between indigenous communities and forensic services. Read more about here (with a photo at work).

This is Gérardine Mukeshimana (below): she has been the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda since 2014. She studied plant genetics before that, gaining agricultural engineering degrees from the National University of Uganda, and a PhD from Michigan State University in 2013.


Eqbal Dauqan is a Yemeni-Malaysian biochemist, who studies antioxidants in vegetable oils. She became a refugee after her family was killed and university bombed in Yemen’s civil war. She is an activist on refugee issues, as well as supporting other Yemeni women scientists who have found a home in Malaysia. This NPR story about her is called “She may be the most unstoppable scientist in the world”.

María Euridice Páramo (below) is a paleontologist and geologist, who co-authored the first publication about a dinosaur fossil found in Colombia. She is a notable expert on mosasaurs – and her page has lots of dino pictures!


Emi Nakamura (below) is a Professor of Business and Economics at Columbia, as well as co-editor of the American Economic Review.

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Paula Bonta is an Argentinian-Canadian computer scientist who developed the Scratch programming language for children and more – she’s a Harvard graduate.


Other faces slideshow


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While looking for scientists’ faces, you come across other civic activists, academics, and leaders whose faces are missing from their Wikipedia pages. Lately, they included:

Benjamin Griffith Brawley (1882-1939) was an author and educator, who wrote College textbooks on literature and art, as well as other books. He had a master’s degree from Harvard, was dean of the predecessor to Morehouse College, and chaired the English Department at Howard University.

Christopher Payne (1845-1925) was a religious and political leader, and the first African American elected to the West Virginia state legislature. His grandfather was a slaveholder, but although he was born during slavery, his parents were free at that time. Forced to serve during the Civil War, he worked as a farmhand after the War, going to night school to become one of the first African-American teachers in West Virginia.

Channing Heggie Tobias (1882-1961) has been called the Booker T. Washington of his day. He was an ordained minister who taught biblical literature at Paine College in Georgia for several years. He participated in developing labor laws, was an alternate UN delegate, Chairman of the NAACP, on President Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights, and much, much more.

Nellie Mae Quander (1880-1961) was an educator in DC public schools for 30 years, and a civic leader. She had a master’s from Columbia University, then another degree  in social work from New York University and a diploma from Uppsala University in Sweden. Quander was the first president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and active in the YWCA and Women’s Trade Union League among other groups.

Edward Austin Johnson (1860-1944) was an attorney and the first African American elected to the New York state assembly. He was born enslaved, became a school teacher and wrote a school history of African Americans and other books. Johnson went on to earn a law degree and become dean of law at Shaw College in North Carolina. He moved to New York and entered politics.

Emmett Jay Scott (1873-1957) was an educator and advisor to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. He was the highest ranking African American in President Woodrow Wilson’s administration during World War I.

Lester Granger (1896-1976) was the head of the National Urban League from 1941 to 1961. He had been a longterm activist in integrating trade unions. After leaving the leadership role at the League, he moved on to an academic career in New Orleans in social work.

Max Yergan (1892-1975) was a missionary and activist internationally in YMCA and other groups. He worked with Paul Robeson, with whom he founded the Council on African Affairs. He was the second president of the National Negro Congress.

Spread the word! Read and share more stories – and check out “How to Help” if you would like to add images and stories to Wikipedia.

Hilda Bastian


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