Winona Cargile Alexander

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Winona Cargile Alexander
BornJune 21, 1893
DiedOctober 16, 1984 (age 91)
social worker
Edward L. Alexander (m. 1917⁠–⁠1943)
ChildrenEdward L. Alexander, Jr. and James S. Alexander (four other children died during childbirth)

Winona Cargile Alexander (June 21, 1893 – October 16, 1984) was a founder of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Incorporated at Howard University on January 13, 1913. It was the second sorority founded for and by African-American women and was influential in women's building civic institutions and charities. In 1915, she was the first black admitted to the New York School of Philanthropy (now Columbia University's School of Social Work), where she received a graduate fellowship for her studies. She was the first African-American hired as a social worker in New York.

Early life and education[edit]

Winona Cargile was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1893, the second of four daughters of Fannie and the Rev. Charles Cargile. He was an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and Howard University divinity school graduate. Cargile graduated as salutatorian from Ballard Normal High School in Macon, Georgia in 1910.[1]

From there she went to Howard University in Washington, DC. Both her uncle and her father had also attended Howard.[2] Cargile graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1914. At Howard, Cargile was one of 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1913.


After graduation, Cargile was hired as a high school English teacher in Sedalia, Missouri. She received a graduate fellowship to the New York School of Philanthropy. In 1915 she was the first black person admitted to the graduate studies program, and earned a degree in social work in 1916.[1] After graduation, Cargile was the first black social worker hired for New York City and New York County Charities.[3]

Cargile moved to Jacksonville, Florida when hired as a social worker the Duval County Welfare Board. In 1917 she married attorney Edward L. Alexander. They moved to Switzerland, Florida, where Edward had a law practice. They owned and operated a citrus grove.[1] Cargile had two sons, Edward L., Jr. and James S. Four daughters died during birth.[1]

Later life and death[edit]

After her husband's death in 1943, Alexander moved her family back to Jacksonville. She worked in social work, first as an administrator with Travelers' Aid. She worked from 1950 until 1960 as admissions officer at Brewster Hospital.[1] Alexander founded the Jacksonville alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. She was active in the Laura Street Presbyterian Church, where she taught and was chosen as an elder. She volunteered with the YWCA, where she was on the board of directors, and also on the Methodist Hospital Board of Directors.[1] She died in 1984.

Honors and Legacy[edit]

The Jacksonville chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta has a scholarship named after Alexander which is awarded to high school graduates.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Our Founder Winona C. Alexander", Delta Sigma Theta: Jacksonville Florida Alumnae Chapter, Retrieved December 1, 2007
  2. ^ Gregory Parks, ed., Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, p. 77, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008
  3. ^ Gregory Parks, ed., Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun, p. 78, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008

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