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Dorothy Harrison

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Information about Dorothy Harrison

Profile image of Dorothy Harrison

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red, White
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Malaysia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/8/1907
Birth Location:
Portsmouth, Ohio

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Elementary School Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red, White
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Malaysia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/8/1907
Birth Location:
Portsmouth
See how Dorothy Harrison is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Educator and former president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Dorothy Penman Harrison was born Dorothy Marie Penman on December 8, 1907 in Portsmouth, Ohio. Harrison’s parents were former teacher, Annabelle Layne, and chef, Victor Logan Penman. Harrison grew up in Portsmouth where she learned to read and took piano lessons. Attending all black Eleventh Street Elementary School, Harrison graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1924. At Fisk University, she studied history with A.A. Taylor. When both of her parents passed away in 1926, Harrison returned to Ohio and taught school. She earned her B.A. degree in education from Ohio State University in 1932. That same year, Harrison joined the Epsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and married educator, Dr. Gerald Lamar Harrison. Her husband earned his Ph.D. in education from Ohio State University in 1936 while he was serving as head of the Education Department at Prairie View A&M College in Texas.

In 1940, Harrison moved to Oklahoma when her husband was named president of the Colored Agricultural and Normal University. The college was renamed Langston University in 1941. As first lady to the president, Harrison hosted distinguished guests like W.E.B. DuBois and Liberia’s Clarence L. Simpson. In 1944, she traveled to Liberia for the inauguration of William V.S. Tubman as Liberia’s president, also attending were Mary McLeod Bethune and Eta Moten Barnett. Tragedy struck as Harrison’s eldest son, Gerald Lamar, passed away at the age of thirteen, in 1948, followed by the younger son, Richard, in 1950. Returning to school, Harrison acquired her M.S. degree in education from Oklahoma State University. She also amassed a record of civic activities, serving as treasurer of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. under president Dorothy Height in 1952 and national officer for The Links, Inc. in 1957. Harrison was elected president of the sorority in 1956 and served through 1958.

In 1960, Harrison relocated to Chicago, Illinois with her husband after spending twenty years at Langston University. She continued her public service as a board member of the Chicago Metropolitan YWCA and as a national board member of the Central Review Team and the Urban League Women’s Board. Harrison is a lifetime member of the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women. In 1965, Harrison was selected as co-chair of the federal Head Start program. She also served on the board of directors of the City Associates of the Chicago Art Institute. Harrison has traveled numerous times to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

Awarded an honorary doctorate from Langston University in 2003. Harrison passed away on December 22, 2010.

Harrison was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 18, 2007.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dorothy Harrison's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her maternal uncle, who passed for white
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison remembers her maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her mother permitting her to attend Fisk University
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison recalls teaching elementary school during her college career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison describes her paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dorothy Harrison describes her family's historic homestead in Meadville, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dorothy Harrison describes how her family valued education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dorothy Harrison talks about her father running away from home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dorothy Harrison describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Dorothy Harrison describes her mother's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison describes her father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison describes her brother Frederich Penman
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison describes the sights and tastes of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison talks about her hearing problem
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison recalls experiencing discrimination at Portsmouth High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison remembers Portsmouth's Eleventh Street School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dorothy Harrison describes her love of reading
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dorothy Harrison describes her parents' expectations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dorothy Harrison describes the restrictions upon married teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dorothy Harrison talks about her favorite teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dorothy Harrison remembers Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison describes her experiences with church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison recalls popular pastimes during her teenage years
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her decision to attend a historically black college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison describes her social life at Fisk University in Nashville
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison remembers the professors and staff at Fisk University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison remembers The Ohio State University in Columbus
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison describes her husband's graduate studies
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison describes her classes at The Ohio State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dorothy Harrison remembers her marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dorothy Harrison describes her husband's career at Wilberforce University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dorothy Harrison describes her brother's house and practice in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her impressions of Prairie View, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her husband's achievements at Prairie View State Normal & Industrial College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison describes her husband's studies and career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison describes the history of Langston University in Oklahoma
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison remembers her life in Langston, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison remembers the Dust Bowl era in Langston, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison remembers the desegregation of Oklahoma's colleges
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her duties at Langston University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison recalls establishing a work-study program in her home
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison remembers her famous houseguests
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison remembers her travels abroad
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison remembers William V.S. Tubman, Jr.'s inauguration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison recalls being in Ghana when Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison describes her travels in Africa
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her impression of Liberia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison remembers notable figures she met in Liberia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison remembers joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison remembers the deaths of her sons
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dorothy Harrison recalls her election as president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison recalls Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.'s support of civil rights
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison describes the growth of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison recalls stepping down as president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison describes her work on the executive committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison describes her involvement with The Links, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dorothy Harrison describes her work with the Young Women's Christian Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dorothy Harrison describes her other organizational involvement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dorothy Harrison reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Dorothy Harrison describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Dorothy Harrison talks about the 2008 presidential election
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dorothy Harrison reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dorothy Harrison talks about her remaining family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dorothy Harrison describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dorothy Harrison talks about her favorite sports teams
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dorothy Harrison remembers accepting an honorary degree from Langston University
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dorothy Harrison narrates her photographs