Skip to main content

Elbert Frank Cox

Biography
(1895–1969)
  • Publish date:
In 1925, Elbert Frank Cox became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. He taught for 40 years and inspired future Black mathematicians.

Synopsis

Elbert Frank Cox earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Indiana. In 1925, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. He taught for 40 years at West Virginia State College and Howard University. After he retired, Howard established a scholarship fund in Cox's name to encourage future Black mathematicians.

Profile

Elbert Frank Cox was born on December 5, 1895 in Evansville, Indiana. After graduating from Indiana University in 1917, Cox served in World War I and then pursued a career in teaching. In 1925, he earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University, becoming the first African American to earn the degree in the United States and, in fact, the world.

After earning his degree, Cox taught at West Virginia State College and then at Howard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1965. Ten years later, the Howard University Mathematics Department established the Elbert F. Cox Scholarship Fund to encourage young Black undergraduates to pursue mathematic studies at the graduate level. Cox died on November 28, 1969, and though he did not live to see his scholarship or the Ph. D. program launched, it is certain that it was he who made it possible.

Scroll to Continue

READ NEXT

Representative Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, speaks during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 29, 2020. The hearing is titled "U.S. Park Police Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square Park." Photographer: Bonnie Cash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deb Haaland

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 09: John Major attends the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on November 9, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. People across the UK gather to pay tribute to service personnel who have died in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, with this year taking on added significance as it is the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

John Major

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

Tags: