National Institute on Aging

University of Chicago to Honor Its First Black Woman Doctoral Degree Recipient

simpsonGeorgiana Simpson was born in Washington, D.C., in 1866. She attended District of Columbia Normal School and trained to be a teacher. She taught in the city’s public schools beginning in 1885.

Simpson enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1907 at the age of 41. Her presence of campus was protested by students from the South. But Simpson persisted and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1911. In 1921, at the age of 55, she earned a Ph.D. in German philology at the university, despite the fact that she was not permitted to live on campus. She was the second African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.

Dr. Simpson had a long career as a teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. In 1931, she was offered a position on the faculty at Howard University. She taught there until her retirement in 1939 at the age of 73. Dr. Simpson died in Washington in 1944.

It has been announced that a bronze bust of Georgiana Simpson will be placed in the Reynolds Club on the University of Chicago campus. According to a local television report, this will be the first statue or bust of a woman on the University of Chicago campus.

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