Edward Alexander Bouchet was the first African-American to
earn a doctorate degree, which he received for physics in 1876 from Yale. He was also the first African-American to graduate from Yale, and his was only the sixth doctorate ever awarded in the field of physics. Bouchet was one of the few people of any ethnicity to earn a doctorate.job
Because of racial discrimination, Bouchet was unable to secure employment as a college professor upon graduation. Instead, he taught physics and chemistry at the School for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. He worked there for 25 years and afterward worked for three other schools before retiring. He died in 1918, at age 66, in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut.
In honor of Bouchet’s birthday, Yale University and Howard University co-founded the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society on September 15, 2005. The Bouchet Society commemorates Bouchet’s groundbreaking academic accomplishments and gathers illustrious professors who have been previously underrepresented in academe in order to model exemplary achievement and provide support for graduate students. Besides Yale and Howard, 10 other universities have established chapters.
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