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Fri, 08.21.1885

Jean Hamilton Walls, Physicist born

Jean Hamilton Walls

*The birth of Jean Hamilton Walls in 1885 is celebrated on this date. She was a Black physicist and educator.

From Pittsburgh she was was one of six children and was raised in a home that valued rigorous learning.  Walls graduated from Allegheny High School in 1904 and majored in mathematics and physics at Pitt.  She received a master's degree at Howard University in 1912 and taught at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore; the Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina; and the Fort Valley School in Georgia.

She returned to Pittsburgh to be executive director of the Centre Avenue branch of the Y.W.C.A. and then started work on her doctorate. Hamilton was U. of Pitts first Black woman to receive a bachelor's degree (1910) was also the first to receive a Ph.D. (1938). Her dissertation was A Study of Seventy-Eight Negro Graduates of the University of Pittsburgh from 1920-1936.

Excluded from campus organizations by race, with the exception of the Y.W.C.A., Black women formed their own clubs. In 1922, the women formed the Council of Negro College Women (C.N.C.W) to foster intellectual growth, leadership, and friendship among Black women at the University of Pittsburgh. The C.N.C.W. also worked to broaden the vocational options of college educated black women. Their first event was The Vocational Conference for Colored Students.  Jean Hamilton Walls died in 1978.

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