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Dr. Angie Turner King
*Angie Lena Turner King was born on this date in 1905. She was a Black chemist, mathematician, and educator.
Angie Lena Turner was born in the segregated coal-mining community of Elkhorn in McDowell County, West Virginia. She had a difficult childhood following her mother's death when she was eight years old. Turner graduated from high school at age 14 in 1919 and studied at Bluefield Colored Institute (present-day Bluefield State College) before transferring to West Virginia State (then known as the West Virginia Collegiate Institute). She graduated cum laude from West Virginia State in 1927 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and mathematics.
She began her teaching career in education at West Virginia State High School, West Virginia State's laboratory high school; she attended graduate school during the summers at Cornell University. Turner's thesis in chemistry at Cornell was entitled "The Interaction Between Solutions of Tannic Acid and Hydrous Ferric Oxide." She received a master's degree in physical chemistry from Cornell in 1931. She was active in student activities and directed the high-school play, "The Ghost Parade" by Katharine Kavanaugh, in 1935. After eight years at West Virginia State High School, she was offered a teaching position as an associate professor at West Virginia State College. She immediately refurbished her laboratory to ensure that her students knew "what a real laboratory was like." She continued supporting student activities as a professor and was the faculty sponsor for West Virginia State's Nu chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. During the summer of 1939, Turner completed graduate coursework in education at the University of Chicago.
Turner married Robert Elemore King on June 9, 1946, in Institute, WV. She and her husband had five daughters, whom King raised while working and continuing her postgraduate studies. Robert died in 1958. After teaching high school for eight years, King became an associate professor at West Virginia State College and refurbished its laboratory to improve the quality of her students' scientific research. Following the outbreak of World War II, she taught chemistry to soldiers in West Virginia State's Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) unit. King later attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she became a Doctor of Philosophy in general education in 1955. She mentored several notable students, including entomologist and activist Margaret Strickland Collins, mathematician Katherine Johnson (a subject of Hidden Figures), and Jasper Brown Jeffries of the Manhattan Project.
King attended the University of Pittsburgh during the early 1950s, becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in general education in 1955. Her dissertation was entitled An Analysis of Early Algebra Textbooks Used in American Secondary Schools before 1900. King's master's thesis and doctoral dissertation were her only published research. By 1969, King chaired West Virginia State College's Division of Natural Resources and Mathematics. During the 1970s, she traveled to Africa to visit Presbyterian missions and to obtain information on the status of women in Zaire, Kenya, and Ethiopia; she made a presentation on "The Status of Women in East Africa" to the Lewisburg branch of the American Association of University Women in 1974.
King chaired the West Virginia Governor's Commission on the Status of Women and spoke with Gloria Steinem at a conference on Appalachian women at Morris Harvey College in 1975. King chaired West Virginia State College's Division of Natural Resources and Mathematics before retiring from the college in 1980. She continued to live on the West Virginia State campus after her retirement, and in 1992 the school presented her with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Angie Lena Turner King died in Institute, WV. on February 28, 2004.