Dudley Weldon Woodard

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Dudley Weldon Woodard (October 3, 1881 – July 1, 1965) was an American mathematician and professor, and the second African-American to earn a PhD in Mathematics; the first was Woodard's mentor Elbert Frank Cox, who earned a PhD from Cornell in 1925).

He received his B.A. degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio (1903), his B.S. degree (1906) and M.Sc. degree (1907) at the University of Chicago.[1] He taught collegiate mathematics in Tuskegee for many years,[2] until finally he earned his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania (1928).[3] His doctoral thesis was entitled, On Two-Dimensional Analysis Situs with Special Reference to the Jordan Curve Theorem, and was advised by John R. Kline.[4][5]

During his lifetime, he published three papers. The second of these, The Characterization of the Closed N-Cell in Fundamenta Mathematicae, 13 (1929), is, according to Scott Williams, Professor of Mathematics at the State University of New York-Buffalo, the first paper published in an accredited mathematics journal by an African American.[4][6] He also published a study for the Committee of twelve for the advancement of the interests of the Negro race on Jackson, Mississippi in 1909,[7] a textbook, Practical Arithmetic (1911),[8] and an article on geometry teaching at Tuskegee in 1913.[9]

Woodard was a respected mathematician, professor and mentor to his students at Howard University in Washington DC, where he established the masters program in mathematics.[10] One of his best known students was William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor, who later took his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania (1933), also under Woodard's former advisor, John R. Kline.

Woodard retired in 1947, after having become chairman of the mathematics department. He died on July 1, 1965, at his home in Cleveland, Ohio, aged 83.[1][11][12][13][14]


  1. ^ a b Pioneer African American Mathematicians, University of Pennsylvania University Archives, archives.upenn.edu; accessed July 9, 2020.
  2. ^ Charles Waddell Chesnutt (2002). An Exemplary Citizen: Letters of Charles W. Chesnutt, 1906-1932. Stanford University Press. pp. 42–. ISBN 978-0-8047-4508-6.
  3. ^ Vernon L. Farmer; Evelyn Shepherd-Wynn (15 May 2012). Voices of Historical and Contemporary Black American Pioneers [4 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-0-313-39225-2.
  4. ^ a b Dudley W. Woodard, Mathematician of the African Diaspora, math.buffalo.edu; accessed July 9, 2020.
  5. ^ Jessie Parkhurst Guzman; Vera Chandler Foster; William Hardin Hughes (1947). Negro year book: a review of events affecting Negro life, 1941-1946. Dept. of Records and Research, Tuskegee Institute. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "February 1922 Meeting". American Mathematical Society.
  7. ^ Woodard, Dudley Weldon (1909). Negro progress in a Mississippi town, being a study of conditions in Jackson, Mississippi. Cheyney, Pa: Committee of twelve for the advancement of the interests of the Negro race. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  8. ^ Woodard, Dudley Weldon (1911). Practical Arithmetic. Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  9. ^ Woodard, D. W. (May 1913). "The Teaching of Geometry at Tuskegee". School Science and Mathematics. 13 (5): 400–410. doi:10.1111/j.1949-8594.1913.tb07751.x. hdl:2027/emu.010000894067.
  10. ^ Erica N. Walker (29 May 2014). Beyond Banneker: Black Mathematicians and the Paths to Excellence. SUNY Press. pp. 115–. ISBN 978-1-4384-5215-9.
  11. ^ Nathaniel Dean (1 January 1997). African Americans in Mathematics: DIMACS Workshop, June 26-28, 1996. American Mathematical Soc. pp. 186–. ISBN 978-0-8218-7079-2.
  12. ^ Virginia K. Newell (June 1980). Black Mathematicians and Their Works. Dorrance. ISBN 978-0-8059-2556-2.
  13. ^ Colin A. Palmer; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2006). Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history: the Black experience in the Americas. Macmillan Reference USA. ISBN 978-0-02-865820-9.
  14. ^ Black Scientists in America: Dudley Weldon Woodard, myblackhistory.net; accessed July 9, 2020.