Marion Vera Cuthbert

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Marion Vera Cuthbert (1896–1989) was a writer and intellectual associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Cuthbert was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

Cuthbert was from St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her bachelor's degree from Boston University in 1920. She subsequently became principal of Burrel Normal School, then Dean of Women at Talladega College. In 1933, she delivered an address at the NAACP national convention entitled "Honesty in Race Relations."[1] Cuthbert later received her master's degree and Doctorate from Columbia University. Her dissertation, titled "Education and Marginality: A Study of the Negro College Graduate," was a sociological study of the effects of education on the lives of African American women. She published a volume of poetry, as well as essays in Opportunity.[2]


Cuthbert served as dean of women at Talladega College from 1927 to 1930, and from 1928 to 1931, she completed a master's in psychology at Columbia University during the summers.[3] She got her PhD from Columbia Teacher's College in 1942.[3] Cuthbert turned down Charles S. Johnson's offer to teach at Fisk University in favor of a position at Brooklyn College, where she worked from 1944 to 1961 and where was the first black woman to serve as dean of women.[4] In an oral history, Olivia Pearl Stokes mentions Dr. Cuthbert was considered for presidency of Spelman College.[5]

After Cuthbert retired to Plainville, NH, she authored numerous volumes of poetry, children's books, and short stories, some of which are anthologized.[6][7]


Dr. Cuthbert's research on black female college graduates, represented in her work, Education and Marginality: A Study of the Negro College Graduate, fills a vacuum in literature about the experiences of black college graduates during the 1930s and 1940s. Her work complements that of Charles S. Johnson's study The Negro College Graduate published in 1938.[4] Her dissertation focused on the experiences of black females at the intersection of race, gender and culture in context of college attainment. She conducted a comparative survey study of the experiences of black females who attained a college degree against those who never attended. Martin D. Jenkins critiques her work by claiming that while the focus on black females in college is critical, her methodology is not strong enough to make the work generalizable to the black experience.[4]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Lauren Kientz Anderson, “A Nauseating Sentiment, a Magical Device, or a Real Insight? Interracialism at Fisk University in 1930” in Higher Education for African Americans Before the Civil Rights Era, 1900-1964, edited by Marybeth Gasman and Roger L. Geiger, 75-111. Perspectives on the History of Higher Education. Vol 29. 2012. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012.
  2. ^ Roses, Lorraine Elena, and Ruth Elizabeth Randolph. Harlem's Glory: Black Women Writing, 1900-1950. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1996.
  3. ^ a b Ware, Susan (2004-01-01). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674014886. 
  4. ^ a b c Jenkins, Martin (1943). "Review: The Negro Woman College Graduate". Journal of Negro Education. JSTOR 2292973. 
  5. ^ Hill, Ruth Edmonds (1991-01-01). The Black Women Oral History Project. Cplt. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783110973914. 
  6. ^ Double-take : a revisionist Harlem Renaissance anthology / edited by Venetria K. Patton and Maureen Honey. Rutgers University Press. 2001. ISBN 0813529301. 
  7. ^ Gable, Craig (February 18, 2004). Ebony Rising: Short Fiction of the Greater Harlem Renaissance Era. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253216753.