Arthur Fauset

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Arthur Huff Fauset (January 20, 1899 – September 2, 1983)[1] was an American civil rights activist, anthropologist, folklorist, and educator.

Family background[edit]

Fauset was born in 1899 in Flemington, New Jersey.[2] He was the middle of three children of Redmon Fauset, a black Presbyterian minister, and Bella Fauset, a white woman from a Jewish family who converted to Christianity with three children from a previous marriage. He was born to a Black man and a White woman but never identified fully with either group though he was legally considered Negro or Black.

Arthur's father Redmond Fauset was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and known for being outspoken about his views of society. Coupled with his dedication to educating oneself and belief in that writing was a vital discipline undoubtedly influenced his family and his son Arthur.

Bella Fauset, Arthur's mother, a white woman of a Jewish family who was a devout integrationist. She wanted to create interracial peace within her home that she wished to see in the outside world. She also emphasized the importance of education as did Arthur's father and carried on with the disciplined upbringing after Arthur's father died. Arthur Fauset took on the same dedication to educating himself that his father had though he only knew him or four years prior to his death. In his adult life, contrasting his father, Fauset broke away from religion and proclaimed himself a "free thinker." He also continued to not identify in either racial classification of Black or Negro or White.


Fauset attended Central High School in Philadelphia then went on to the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy for Men where he received his Teaching Credentials, obtaining his first teaching position in 1918.[3] His performance in the principals' exams qualified him to become principal of John Singerly School until 1946.[3] As he began practicing anthropology, Alain Locke became his mentor and friend, emphasizing scholarship to guide his activism.

Fauset pursued education in order to feed and develop his intellect rather than simply to graduate as many students still do to this day. In addition to apathy towards degrees for the sake of earning them, Fauset was discouraged from teaching at the university level because of his race. People of colour were banned from teaching in most places at this time, however Fauset did teach at an elementary school where he was Principal for 20 years.

From the University of Pennsylvania he received a B.A. in 1921, M.A. in 1924, and Ph.D. in 1942.[3]

Published works[edit]

  • For Freedom. Franklin Pub. and Supply Co., 1927.
  • Folklore from Nova Scotia, Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Vol. 24, 1931. Reprint: Corinthian Press, 1988.
  • Black Gods of the Metropolis; Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944. Reprint 1971. Reprinted 2001 (with an introduction by John Szwed and a foreword by Barbara Dianne Savage).
  • Sojourner Truth; God's Faithful Pilgrim. Russell & Russell, 1971.
  • with Nellie Rathbone Bright: America: Red, White, Black, Yellow. Franklin Pub. and supply Co., 1969.


Fauset was an active figure in the Harlem Renaissance, though he was overshadowed by his half-sister Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882–1961), a well-known editor, poet, essayist and novelist.[4] In 1926, his short story "Symphonesque," won first prize in an Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life contest. He co-edited a Philadelphia literary magazine called Black Opals with Nellie Rathbone Bright.

Frank G. Speck interested him in anthropology and Fauset went to Nova Scotia in the summer of 1923 to collect some folklore. He belonged to the Philadelphia Anthropology Society, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Folklore Society, which published his Nova Scotian findings in their Memoirs in 1931. Elsie Clews Parsons supported him throughout his career in anthropology and with her support Fauset published his Ph. D. on Negro cults of Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, Black Gods of the Metropolis in 1944.

In 1932-33 he participated in the reorganization of the teachers' union in Philadelphia as vice president of the union. He also joined the National Negro Congress.


  • Carole H. Carpenter, "Arthur Huff Fauset, Campaigner for Social Justice: A Symphony of Diversity." In: African-American Pioneers in Anthropology, Ira E. Harrison and Faye V. Harrison (editors), Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1999, p 213-242.
  • Edward E. Curtis and Danielle Brune Sigler, eds., The New Black Gods: Arthur Huff Fauset and the Study of African American Religions, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Salzman, Jack; David L. Smith; Cornel West (1996). Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Macmillan Library Reference. p. 937. ISBN 978-0-02-897345-6. 
  2. ^ Arthur Huff Fauset, Minnesota State University, Mankato. Accessed March 9, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Fauset, Arthur Huff(1899–1983) - Anthropologist, educator, Prepares for Career, Chronology".
  4. ^ Wintz, Cary D., and Paul Finkelman, ed. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, Vol. 1 (2004), p. 362.