Reference Entry

Turner, Thomas Wyatt

David W. Southern

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Turner, Thomas Wyatt (16 March 1877–21 April 1978), educator and civil rights advocate, was born in Hughesville, Maryland, the son of Eli Turner and Linnie Gross, farmers. The fifth of nine children born into a family of black Catholic sharecroppers, Turner spent eight years in the racially segregated public schools of Hughes County before entering an Episcopalian school for African Americans at Charlotte Hall in adjacent St. Mary’s County. In his two years at Charlotte Hall (1892–1894), Turner fell under the sway of two missionary educators who persuaded him that learning was next to godliness and that teaching was a noble profession. From 1895 to 1901 he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. (the first two years in preparatory school), receiving an A.B. in biology in 1901. After teaching at Tuskegee Institute in 1901–1902, he taught in a Baltimore, Maryland, high school for the next decade. While there, Turner earned an M.A. at Howard in 1905. In 1907 he married Laura Miller of Hampton, Virginia. He next pursued doctoral work at the University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Cornell University, completing a Ph.D. at Cornell in 1921. In 1913 Turner accepted a position as professor of biology at Howard University, a position that he held until 1924. His next assignment took him to Hampton Institute, from which he retired in 1945....

Reference Entry.  1507 words. 

Subjects: Science and Mathematics ; Education ; Social and Cultural History ; Society and Culture

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