Charity Adams Earley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Charity Edna Earley)
Jump to: navigation, search
Charity Adams Earley
Birth name Charity Edna Adams Earley
Born December 5, 1918 [1]
Columbia, South Carolina
Died January 13, 2002(2002-01-13) (aged 83)
Dayton, Ohio
Buried at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
Service/branch Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
Years of service 1942 − 1946
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Third Platoon; Third Company, Third Training Regiment; 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion
Commands held 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion
Awards Ohio Women's Hall of Fame; The Smithsonian Institute: 100 Most Important Black Women in History; South Carolina Black Hall of Fame; Top Ten Women of the Miami Valley Dayton Daily News; Service to the Community Award; Senior Citizens Gold Watch Award; Ohio Veterans Hall of Famed; named citizen of the year by The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; the BellSouth African-American History Calendar; honorary doctorates from Wilberforce University and the University of Dayton
Spouse(s) Stanley A. Earley (m.1949)
Other work Educator

Charity Adams Earley (1918–2002) was the first African-American woman to be an officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later WACS) and was the commanding officer of the first battalion of African-American women to serve overseas during World War II. Adams was the highest ranking African-American woman in the army by the completion of the war.

Early life and Education[edit]

Born in 1918 in Columbia, South Carolina, Adams' father was a minister and her mother was a teacher.[2] Adams was the oldest of four children. She graduated high school from Booker T. Washington High School as valedictorian and college from Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1938, majoring in math and physics.[3][2] After graduation she returned to Columbia and taught school while attending graduate school at Ohio State University during the summer months.[2]


Women's Army Corps[edit]

Adams enlisted in the U.S. Army's Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in July 1942.[2] She was the first African-American woman to be an officer in the WAAC. At the time, the U.S. Army was still segregated so she was placed in a company with fellow female African-American women officers and stationed at Fort Des Moines. In 1943 she was assigned to be training supervisor at base headquarters.

In early 1944, Adams was re-assigned as the Training Center control officer who was in charge of improving efficiency and job training. She also had other responsibilities such as surveying officer (who found lost property) and summary court officer (who handled the minor women's trials).[2]

In December 1944, Adams led the only company of black WACs ever to serve oversees. They were stationed in Birmingham, England. The women began to socialize with the citizens and broke through prejudices on both sides. Adams was put in charge of a postal directory service unit. Another part of her job included raising the morale of women. Adams achieved this by creating beauty parlors for the women to relax and socialize in.[4]

In March 1945, she was appointed to the commanding officer and battalion commander of the first battalion of African-American women (6888th Central Postal Direction). They were stationed first in Birmingham, England and three months later were moved to Rouen, France, followed by Paris, France.[5][4] They were responsible for the delivery of mail to over seven million soldiers during World War II.[6]

By the completion of the war, Adams was the highest ranking African-American woman in the military.[7] She decided to leave the service in 1946 when she was called to serve at the Pentagon.[4] At the conclusion of the war, when asked about her ground breaking achievements, Adams responded simply, "I just wanted to do my job".[2]

Fighting Segregation and Racism in the Army[edit]

Growing up in the south, Adams experienced the hardships of segregation. When she entered the army, she still faced discrimination but was not afraid to speak up and fight for de-segregation in the army. One of the first battle's Adams fought for equality was when the Army proposed segregating the training regiment. When she was told she would head one of the segregated regiments, she refused. Fortunately, the army decided against creating the separate regiments.[2]

On another occasion, Adams spoke up to a general who threatened to send a "white first lieutenant" to show her how to run her unit. She responded, "over my dead body," to which the general threatened to court-martial her for dis-obeying orders. She then threatened to court-martial him for using "language stressing racial segregation". They both dropped the matter.

Adams also fought for de-segregation. When the Red Cross tried to donate equipment for a new segregated recreation center, Adams refused it because her unit had been sharing the recreation center that was used by white units. [5]

Adams encouraged her battalion to socialize with the white men coming back from the front and even the citizens of where ever they were stationed. She wanted to create comradeship between the enlisted personal and ease the tensions of racism.[4]


After her service in the Army, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from Ohio State University. She then worked at the Veterans Administration in Cleveland, Ohio but soon left to teach at The Miller Academy of Fine Arts.[4] She moved to Nashville, Tennessee and was the director of student personal at Tennessee A&I College. She then moved to Georgia and became the director of student personal and assistant professor of education at Georgia State College.[2]

Community Service[edit]

Adams devoted much of her post-war life to community service. She served on the Board of Directors of Dayton Power and Light, the Dayton Metro Housing Authority, Dayton Opera Company, the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross, the Board of Trustees of Sinclair Community College. She volunteered for United Way, The United Negro College Fund, the Urban League, and the YWCA. She also co-directed the Black Leadership Development Program.[3]


In 1949 Adams married Stanley A. Earley, Jr. They moved to Switzerland for a time while Stanley completed medical school. They returned to the U.S. in 1952 and settled in Dayton, Ohio[2] where they had two children, Stanley III and Judith Earley.

Adams died at age 83 on January 13, 2002 in Dayton, Ohio. [5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Adams received many honors and awards including the Top Ten Women of the Miami Valley Dayton Daily News, 1965 and Service to the Community Award from the Ohio State Senate in 1989. In 1987 she received the Senior Citizens Gold Watch Award. Adams was listed on the Smithsonian Institution’s 110 most important historical Black women, Black Women Against the Odds, in 1982. She was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 1993. She was also inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame and named citizen of the year by The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 1991[2] [3]In 1997, Adams was included in the BellSouth African-American History Calendar.[2]

She also received honorary doctorates from Wilberforce University and the University of Dayton in 1991.[3]



  1. ^ "North Carolina, Birth Index, 1800-2000," index,, Charity Edna Adams, 05 Dec 1917; from "North Carolina, Birth and Death Indexes, 1800-2000,", citing vol. 4, p. 349, Vance, North Carolina, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Charity Edna Adams Earley". University of South Carolina Aiken. June 10, 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Find a Grave". 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Charity Adams Earley Biography at Black History Now". Retrieved 2015-05-12. 
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ "Army History". 
  7. ^ "". 

External links[edit]