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Sun, 03.25.1900

Educator and more, Ruth W. Howard Beckman

Ruth W. Howard

*Ruth Winifred Howard (Beckham) was born on this date in 1900. She was an African American educator, social worker, and psychologist.

From Washington D.C., she was the daughter of Reverend William J. Howard and his wife Alverda Brown Howard, and she had 7 siblings. As a child, she enjoyed reading and aspired to be a librarian. In 1916, she graduated from the old M Street High school, now known as Dunbar High School. After finishing at M Street High School, Howard attended Simmons College in Boston receiving her degree in social work in 1921 and her Masters of Science degree six years later. Under a Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fellowship for Parent Education, she studied psychology at the University of Minnesota from 1930 to 1934. There she collaborated on research in child development and earned her Ph.D. in psychology and child development, the first Black Woman to do so at the school.

Her doctoral research “A Study of the Development of Triplets,” was the first in print study of a sizable group of triplets of varying sizes from numerous ethnic groups. Howard married psychologist Albert S. Beckham, moved to Chicago, performed clinical internship at the Illinois Institute for Juvenile Research and entered into private clinical psychology practice. From 1940 to 1964, Howard served the African-American community in a number of capacities. She and her husband were co-directors for the Center for Psychological Services.

She was a psychologist for Chicago’s Provident Hospital School of Nursing while consulting schools in Kansas City and Jacksonville. Howard continued in private practice as a consultant and worked with the children’s programs at Abraham Lincoln Centre. As a writer for her field, her publications include Fantasy and the Play Interview, Intellectual and Personality Traits of a Group of Triplets, and Developmental History of a Group of Triplets. Howard’s life contained professional affiliations with the Chicago Psychology Club, the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Reading Association.

She civically was a board member of the YWCA of Chicago, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the American Association of College Women, the National Association of Art Institute of Chicago, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55102-1906

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