Georgia Caldwell Smith

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Georgia Caldwell Smith
Born(1909-09-28)September 28, 1909
Died6 May 1961(1961-05-06) (aged 51)
Alma mater
Known for
  • One of the first African-American woman PhDs in mathematics
  • Head of Spelman's Department of Mathematics
Scientific career

Georgia Caldwell Smith (1909–1961) was one of the first African-American women to gain a bachelor's degree in mathematics.[1] When she was 51, she earned one of the early PhDs in mathematics by an African-American woman, awarded posthumously in 1961.[2][3] Smith was the head of the Department of Mathematics at Spelman College.[2][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born in Atchison, Kansas on 28 August 1909,[4] and attended segregated public schools.[2] She gained her A.B. in 1928, and A.M. in 1929, both in mathematics from the University of Kansas.[2][5]


Smith was an assistant professor of mathematics of the faculty of Spelman College from 1929 to 1938,[2][6] and then at Lincoln University (Missouri) until 1943 and Alabama State College.[2][7] She returned to Spelman in 1945 to take on the position of head of the Department of Mathematics.[6][5]

Smith undertook further study at the University of Minnesota and University of Georgia, gaining a National Science Foundation fellowship to work on her doctorate.[6] Smith completed her dissertation in 1960 at the University of Pittsburgh, titled Some results on the anti center of a group.[8] Her supervisor was Norman Levine.[2][3]

Professional memberships included the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society,[4] including participation in its 1948 meeting in New York.[9] Smith was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Mu Epsilon.[4][2]

Personal life[edit]

Smith was married to Dr. Barnett Frissell Smith, the head of Spelman's department of biology.[10][6] They had a son, Barnett F. Smith Jr.[6] She died on 6 May 1961,due to Cancer[11] before her PhD was conferred posthumously in June.[12]


  1. ^ Jordan, [interviews by] Diann (2007). Sisters in science : conversations with black women scientists about race, gender, and their passion for science. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press. ISBN 978-1-55753-445-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Warren, Wini (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington, Ind. [u.a.]: Indiana University Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 0253336031.
  3. ^ a b Georgia Caldwell Smith at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ a b c d Sammons, Vivian Ovelton (1990). Blacks in science and medicine. New York: Hemisphere Pub. Corp. p. 215. ISBN 0891166653.
  5. ^ a b Atlanta University Catalogs. Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta University. 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Mrs. G. Smith, Spelman Prof., Succumbs". The Pittsburgh Courier. 20 May 1961. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  7. ^ Johnson, Toki Schalk (14 February 1959). "The world and Toki Types". The Pittsburgh Courier. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  8. ^ Smith, Georgia Caldwell (1960). Some results on the anticenter of a group. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  9. ^ Kline, JR (1948). "The February meeting in New York". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 54 (5): 461–479. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1948-08997-2. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  10. ^ "(Notices)". The Crisis. 52 (12): 342. December 1945.
  11. ^ Scrivener, Olivia A (10 July 2006). The Politics of Particularism: HBCUs, Spelman College, and the Struggle to Educate Black Women in Science, 1950–1997. Atlanta, GA: Georgia Tech.
  12. ^ University of Pittsburgh (1961). Commencement. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 9 April 2017.