Monday, September 19, 2022


Edward Alexander Bouchet born  on September 15, 1852 was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from Yale and the first to earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from an American university. He gained his doctorate in physics in just two years. Bouchet was also among the first 20 Americans (of any race) to receive a Ph.D. in physics and was the sixth to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Yale.

Bouchet was born in New Haven, Connecticut. His parents, Susan Cooley and William Francis Bouchet were quite prominent among the small African-American community in the New Haven. His father, William Francis Bouchet was a deacon in the church and was also employed as a janitor at the Yale College. While his mother Susan used to do laundry of the Yale students. William and Susan always had the confidence to see his son Edward join the student body at Yale one day.
As the youngest and only son of four children, Edward was accepted into Hopkins Grammar School in 1868, a private institution that prepared young men for the classical and scientific departments at Yale College.  Consequently, in 1870, Edward got the opportunity of a lifetime and became the first to break the “Color Code” at the Yale College. Bouchet opted for very intense curriculum with courses in Latin, French, Greek, and German. However, he always wanted to study mathematics and science. At Yale College, he attended classes in physics, mechanics, and astronomy with a resulting GPA of 3.36 in his first year. Bouchet made a difference and showed a GPA of 3.52 in mathematics that made him receive summa cum laude honors in his entire undergraduate course until graduation in 1874. He proudly stood sixth in his class. 

He became the first African-American who was elected into the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, but sadly the honor got delayed because Yale’s chapter kept inactive for many years. By the time he was rewarded, another African-American, George Washington Henderson from the Vermont University, preceded him into the society.

After earning his PhD, Bouchet was unable to find a university teaching or research facility position due to racial discrimination. He spent most of his time administrating and teaching in segregated Black schools. #EdwardAlexanderBouchet died on October 28, 1918, due to long term illness in his hometown New Haven, Connecticut.
Bouchet's full impact on black education will never be known; that he had an impact is undeniable. Lillian Mitchell Allen remembered Bouchet from her childhood days in Gallipolis. Perhaps the most highly educated person in the area, he inspired both black and white young people with hitherto unknown goals, she said, noting that her brother, J. Arnot Mitchell, who graduated from Bowdoin College in 1913 and became the first black faculty member at Ohio State University, was influenced by Bouchet.

Source: black Region

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