Women’s History Month – Euphemia Lofton Haynes
Women’s History Month
Euphemia Lofton Haynes
UDC Alum: First African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics
Euphemia Lofton Haynes became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1943. After graduating from Miner Normal School in 1909 with a degree in education, Haynes went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Smith College.
In 1930, Haynes received a master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago. That same year, she founded the math department at Miner Teachers College (later renamed the University of the District of Columbia), which focused on training African-American teachers. Also becoming a professor at the college in 1930, Haynes remained head of the school’s math department for nearly 30 years.
In addition to her educational roles during this time, Haynes continued her studies in mathematics, and in 1943 she earned a Ph.D. degree in the subject—making her the first African-Amerian woman to do so—from the Catholic University of America.
Upon receiving her doctorate degree, Haynes began what would be a 47-year-long journey through the D.C. area’s academic community, and over the course of her career, many area schools would be touched by her influence.
Haynes taught mathematics at Armstrong High School, served as an English teacher at Miner Normal School and taught math as chair of the department at Dunbar High School. She was also a professor of mathematics at the District of Columbia Teachers College, where she served as chair of the Division of Mathematics and Business Education.
From these positions, Haynes was vocal in her advocacy for poor students and better schools, denouncing the system’s segregation-tinged policies.
Continuing her advocacy efforts after retiring in 1959, Haynes devoted herself to many causes and organizations, including the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, Committee of International Social Welfare and Executive Committee of the National Social Welfare Assembly. She also co-founded the Catholic Interracial Council of the District of Columbia.
For her efforts on behalf of the Catholic Church, Haynes was awarded a papal medal, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, in 1959. She joined the District of Columbia Board of Education the following year and became its president in 1966, continuing to fight racial segregation.
Born Martha Euphemia Lofton on September 11, 1890, in Washington, D.C., her father was a prominent black dentist known for backing African-American businesses in the D.C. area. Her mother was active in the Catholic Church, which was a trait that would carry on to Haynes until her death in 1980.
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