Evelyn Boyd Granville

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Evelyn Boyd Granville
Born (1924-05-01) May 1, 1924 (age 92)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics and Education
Thesis On Laguerre Series in the Complex Domain
Doctoral advisor Einar Hille
Notable awards honorary doctorate by Smith College, Sam A. Lindsey Chair of the University of Texas at Tyler

Evelyn Boyd Granville (born May 1, 1924) was one of the first African-American women to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics; she earned it in 1949 from Yale University.[1][2][3]


Evelyn Boyd was born in Washington, D.C.; her father worked odd jobs but separated from her mother when Boyd was young. Boyd and her older sister were raised by her mother and aunt, who both worked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She was valedictorian at Dunbar High School, which at that time was a segregated but academically competitive school for black students in Washington.[1][2]

With financial support from her aunt and, later, a small partial scholarship from Phi Delta Kappa, Boyd entered Smith College in the fall of 1941. She majored in mathematics and physics, but also took a keen interest in astronomy. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and to Sigma Xi and graduated summa cum laude in 1945. Encouraged by a graduate scholarship from the Smith Student Aid Society of Smith College, she applied to graduate programs in mathematics and was accepted by both Yale University and the University of Michigan; she chose Yale because of the financial aid they offered. There she studied functional analysis under the supervision of Einar Hille, finishing her doctorate in 1949. Her dissertation was "On Laguerre Series in the Complex Domain".[1][2][4]


In 1950, she took a teaching position at Fisk University, a college for black students in Nashville, Tennessee (more prestigious postings being unavailable to black women). Two of her students there, Vivienne Malone-Mayes and Etta Zuber Falconer, went on to earn doctorates in mathematics of their own. But by 1952 she left academia and returned to Washington with a position at the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratories. After four years there she moved to IBM as a computer programmer; at IBM, she moved from Washington to New York City in 1957.

She married the Reverend Gamaliel Mansfield Collins in 1960 and with him moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for the U.S. Space Technology Laboratories, then in 1962 the North American Aviation Space and Information Systems Division. While there she worked on various projects for the Apollo program, including celestial mechanics, trajectory comuptation, and "digital computer techniques".[5] In 1967, Granville's marriage ended in divorce.[1][2]

Forced to move because of a restructuring at IBM,[2] she took a position at California State University, Los Angeles in 1967 as a full professor of mathematics. She married realtor Edward V. Granville in 1970. After retiring from CSULA in 1984 she taught at Texas College in Tyler, Texas for four years, and then in 1990 joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Tyler as the Sam A. Lindsey Professor of mathematics. There she developed elementary school math enrichment programs.[1][2]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1989, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Smith College, the first one given by an American institution to an African-American woman mathematician.[2][6][7]

She was appointed to the Sam A. Lindsey Chair of the University of Texas at Tyler (1990-1991).[8]

In 1999, the United States National Academy of Sciences inducted her into its Portrait Collection of African-Americans in Science.[9]

See also[edit]

  • Euphemia Haynes, another African-American woman who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics even earlier, in 1943.


  1. ^ a b c d e O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Evelyn Boyd Granville", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Williams, Scott W. "Evelyn Boyd Granville". Black Women in Mathematics. Mathematics Department, State University of New York at Buffalo. Retrieved 2014-06-21. .
  3. ^ Schlager, Neil; Lauer, Josh (2001). "Evelyn Boyd Granville". Science and Its Times: Understanding the Social Significance of Scientific Discovery. Gale Group. ISBN 9780787639334. 
  4. ^ Evelyn Boyd Granville at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Ray Spangenburg; Diane Moser; Douglas Long (1 January 2003). African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention. Infobase Publishing. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0774-5. 
  6. ^ Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville '45, Smith College, retrieved 2014-06-21.
  7. ^ Smith History: Honorary Degrees, Smith College, retrieved 2014-06-21.
  8. ^ Ray Spangenburg; Diane Moser; Douglas Long (1 January 2003). African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention. Infobase Publishing. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0774-5. 
  9. ^ "Pioneer in science: Evelyn Granville". New Pittsburgh Courier. March 27, 1999. .

Additional reading[edit]

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