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Roselyn Williams

Mathematician Roselyn Elaine Williams was born on November 1, 1950 in Tallahassee, Florida. Her father, Robert Williams, was a World War II veteran; her mother, Lucile Wynn, an educator. Born in the Florida A & M University (FAMU) Hospital, Williams grew up in academia and attended the nursery, elementary, and high schools on FAMU’s campus. Williams then enrolled in Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she was mentored by Dr. Etta Falconer, chair of the mathematics department, and Dr. David Blackwell during a summer program at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from Spelman College with her B.S. degree in mathematics in 1972. Williams went on to earn her M.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Florida in 1974, and her Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Florida State University in 1988.

In 1974, Williams began her career in higher education as an instructor at Florida A & M University. She taught there for five years and then spent two semesters at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia as an assistant professor of mathematics. After receiving her doctoral degree in 1988, Williams returned to Florida A & M University and was appointed as an associate professor in the mathematics department. In 2007, she was named chairperson of the mathematics department where she served until 2005. From 1990 through 2009, she served on the steering committee of the Sunshine State Scholars, a state-funded project that recognize outstanding high school students in mathematics and science. At Florida A & M University, she served on several campus committees to enhance undergraduate research and assess the performance of students in STEM disciplines.

Williams has coordinated programs to promote STEM education for students at all levels of education, including Alliance for Production of African American PhDs in the Mathematical Sciences (Alliance 1 Alliance 2), the Florida A & M University Interdisciplinary Research Experience for Undergraduates (FAMU-IREU), the Florida A & M University Computer Science, Engineering Technology and Scholarship Program (CSEM Scholars), Research Experiences for Undergraduate Faculty (REUF), and Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education for Women (EDGE for Women).

Williams served as the treasurer/secretary for the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and American Mathematical Society (AMS). She also served on the advisory board of the B. L. Perry Branch of the Leon County Public Library. Williams is a member of the board of the C. K. Steele Scholarship Foundation, Inc., the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. In 2008, Williams’ engagement for gender equality at the workplace was recognized by a presentation at the “Workshop on Inequality, Growth and Development” at the United Nations Summit in New York City.

Roselyn Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 2, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.172

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/2/2013

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Elaine

Occupation
Schools

Florida State University

University of Florida

Spelman College

FAMU High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Days, Evenings, and Weekends

First Name

Roselyn

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

WIL65

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

No real preference. Perhaps students interested in science.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty--a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry. What is best in mathematics deserves not merely to be learned as a task, but to be assimilated as a part of daily thought, and brought again and again before the mind with ever-renewed encouragement. . . . generations have gradually created an ordered cosmos, where pure thought can dwell as in its natural home, . . . . - Bertrand Russell

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

11/1/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Mathematician Roselyn Williams (1950 - ) , former treasurer/secretary for the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), is a professor and former chair of the mathematics department at Florida A & M University where she coordinated numerous programs to promote STEM education, such as Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education for Women (EDGE for Women).

Employment

Florida A&M University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roselyn Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams talks about her mother's growing up in Apalachicola, Florida, her mother's education and career in the Leon County schools

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roselyn Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roselyn Williams talks about the history of The Rabbit's Foot Minstrel

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roselyn Williams talks about her paternal grandfather's career as a clarinetist in The Rabbit's Foot Minstrel

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roselyn Williams talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roselyn Williams describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roselyn Williams talks about her brother, Ronald Leslie Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roselyn Williams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roselyn Williams talks about her childhood neighborhood in Tallahasee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Tallahasee, Florida - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams talks about Florida A&M University's Children's Theater

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams talks about the schools in Tallahassee in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roselyn Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roselyn Williams talks about the role of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, and its minister, Reverend C.K. Steele, in integrating Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roselyn Williams describes growing up during segregation in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roselyn Williams talks about integration in Tallahassee in the 1960s, and the resulting effect on African American businesses

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roselyn Williams talks about attending school on Florida A&M University's campus

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roselyn Williams talks about her teachers in school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams talks about her interests as a young girl, particularly in playing the piano

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams talks about notable guests who visited her community in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams describes her interest in mathematics in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roselyn Williams talks about receiving an outstanding student award in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roselyn Williams describes her decision to attend Spelman College for her undergraduate studies

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roselyn Williams recalls Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roselyn Williams describes her experience at Spelman College and talks about her math teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roselyn Williams talks about her interest in mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roselyn Williams talks about a summer math program at University of California, Berkeley, where she met Dr. David Blackwell

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Roselyn Williams describes her graduation ceremony from Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Roselyn Williams talks about being the first African American master's degree student in mathematics at the University of Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roselyn Williams describes her experience as an instructor of mathematics at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams talks about leaving Florida A&M University to pursue her Ph.D. degree in mathematics at Florida State University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams talks about her dissertation on Hopf algebras and the significance of German mathematician, David Hilbert

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams talks German mathematician, David Hilbert

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roselyn Williams talks about her dissertation on Hopf algebras, entitled 'Finite Dimensional Hopf algebras'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roselyn Williams discusses the applications of mathematical theories

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roselyn Williams talks about transitioning from research to teaching at Florida A&M University (FAMU)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roselyn Williams talks about transitioning from research mathematics to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students at Florida A&M University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Roselyn Williams talks about directing the 'Mathematical Modeling in the Natural and Social Sciences' program in 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roselyn Williams describes her work with the Alliance for the Production of African American Ph.D.s in the Mathematical Sciences (Alliance)

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams discusses her teaching philosophy - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams discusses her teaching philosophy - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams talks about her hopes and concerns for graduates from the mathematics program at Florida A&M University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roselyn Williams talks about the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education for Women program (EDGE) and African American women in academia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roselyn Williams talks about prominent African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roselyn Williams talks about her involvement with the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Roselyn Williams reflects upon her life and her career's legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Roselyn Williams describes her hopes for the African American community today

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roselyn Williams describes her concerns for the African American community and her hopes for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University(FAMU)

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roselyn Williams talks about her close ties with her students at Florida A&M University (FAMU), and her collaborations with other departments

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roselyn Williams tells of how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roselyn Williams describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

3$12

DATitle
Roselyn Williams talks about her dissertation on Hopf algebras and the significance of German mathematician, David Hilbert
Roselyn Williams talks about being the first African American master's degree student in mathematics at the University of Florida
Transcript
Now who was your Ph.D. advisor [at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida]?$$My Ph.D. advisor is Professor Warren Nichols; he's a graduate of the University of Chicago [Illinois] and we both--all of his students were studying various aspects of Hopf algebras. He had four students in the area of Hopf algebras.$$And tell us now--tell us the way a layman can understand it and also tell us the way a mathematician can appreciate it. What is Hopf algebras?$$Well, Hopf algebras is an area of algebra named after a mathematician whose last name is Hopf [Heinz Hopf], and it is a set with dual algebraic structures and algebraic structure is a set with binary operations such as addition and multiplication, and so this is fundamental mathemat--algebraic structure. But Hopf algebras is one in which it plays a dual role, okay? It plays a role as a vector field, and then it plays the role as the operators on a vector field so in mathematics terminology, it plays the role of elements as well as functions on elements. Now the application of Hopf algebras--it's an area of pure mathematics. Mathematics is usually thought of in two ways, pure mathematics and applied mathematics. Pure mathematics is the extension of known mathematics because as you are learning more about math or science, it always opens up new questions, and that's how the sciences and the mathematics grow. As the result of solving new problems, new questions arise; some of these questions can be solved with the existing knowledge, but some of these questions also push the boundaries of knowledge and become conjectures that may take anywhere from one to 300 years, or even greater, to solve. So my area of Hopf algebras is in the pure area of study. Now the area of applied mathematics is very similar to pure mathematics; it's only that it is developed with a sense of physical application. For example, solving global issues of energy or environment; these solutions are very quantitative, okay? And so a lot of the mathematics is not designed to solve these problems but are directed, okay, applied to solve these problems. So you're taking pure mathematics which was derived as a result of expanding the knowledge of mathematics; the applied mathematician will try to use this mathematics as well as develop net--new mathematics to understand the molecular system, the economic system, the physical system, the environment, so--so it's difficult to convince anyone that Hopf algebras has any real world applications to--it is the applied mathematician who will be able to take the Hopf algebras, okay, and see that it could be a model for some real world application, to solve some--a model to solve a real world application.$$Okay.$$And I guess a--an example is that in physics, some Brownian motions started off with physics, mathematicians--pure mathematicians tried to generalize it, then applied mathematicians found out that stock markets satisfied the same type of model, and the applied mathematicians ended up making financial derivatives from the mathematics of physics and pure mathematics, and now financial derivatives is a part of economic issues today, global issues. So we sort of think that many of the solutions will be successful sometimes based on the known physics and mathematics, okay? To, to what extent you can solve real world problems precisely or exact.$So you had already been accepted to graduate school at this point?$$I had been accepted into graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Florida [Gainesville, Florida]--$$Okay.$$--and I proceeded to the University of California Berkeley and--during the summer, but at the end of that summer, because of the distance from Florida and several factors, I felt that it was in my best interest to return and go to the University of Florida.$$Okay, okay, all right. So University of Florida; now had it been desegregated long when you started?$$No, I was the first African American graduate in the master's program in mathematics and it had not been integrated long, to my knowledge. There were individuals from Tallahassee [Florida] that were in graduate school at that particular time in other areas, but I was, I was the first graduate in their master's program in mathematics so--there were three, three of us African Americans in my particular cohort at the University of Florida.$$Who were the other two, do you remember?$$Let's see, one's name was Roscoe McNealy [ph.], and I think that before he graduated, he was offered a job at the university; he was married with a family, and the other gentleman I can't remember his name but he was also a high school teacher; both of these were people who had careers and were--Roscoe was a veteran. He went to university on a veteran scholarship or--as a result of the veteran. But they were most--they were older than I, and the other gentleman was actually a school teacher.

Lloyd N. Ferguson

Chemist and chemistry professor Lloyd Noel Ferguson was born on February 9, 1918 in Oakland, California to Noel Ferguson, a businessman, and Gwendolyn Ferguson, a house maid. Ferguson’s interest in chemistry began when he was a child. He built a shed in his backyard so that he could conduct experiments away from his house. Ferguson skipped two grades, and although an illness kept him out of school for a year, he was able to graduate from Oakland Tech High School in 1934, when he was just sixteen. After high school, Ferguson worked with the Works Progress Administration and soon thereafter, the Southern Pacific Railway Company as a porter to save money to attend college. In 1936, Ferguson became the first in his family to attend college, and he earned his B.S. degree with honors in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1940. Ferguson then earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1943, making him the first African American to do so. While at Berkeley, Ferguson worked with Dr. Melvin Calvin on a national defense project, the purpose of which was to find a material that would release oxygen for use in a submarine if it was ever needed.

In 1945, after working at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ferguson received an offer to join the faculty of Howard University in Washington D.C. He became a full professor of chemistry at Howard University in 1955, and in 1958 Ferguson became the head of the chemistry department. During his tenure, Ferguson was instrumental in building the first doctoral program in chemistry at any historically black college or university. In 1952 he was elected to the prestigious American Chemical Society. In 1965, Ferguson joined the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, where he chaired the department of chemistry from 1968 to 1971. Throughout his academic career, Ferguson pursued many scientific interests including: the chemistry of carbon-based molecules, the organic nature of taste sensations, and cancer-causing agents. Ferguson received the California State University CSU Outstanding Professor Award in 1974 and in 1981. In 1976 Ferguson received the Distinguished American Medallion from the American Foundation for Negro Affairs. Ferguson was the only African American to receive an ACS award in chemical education in 1978. He has published seven textbooks and has written over fifty journal articles. He has also helped to develop programs such as Support of the Educationally and Economically Disadvantaged and the Minority Biomedical Research Program that encourage young minority students wishing to pursue higher education and careers in science. In 1972, Ferguson co-founded the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He retired from California State University in Los Angeles in 1986.

Ferguson has a scholarship named after him at the California State University, Los Angeles. He received an honorary Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Howard University. Ferguson is married to Charlotte Welch, and they have raised three adult children, Lloyd, Jr., Stephen, and Lisa.

Lloyd N. Ferguson was interviewed by the HistoryMakerson April 25, 2011.

Lloyd N. Ferguson passed away on November 30, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/25/2011 |and| 4/27/2011

Last Name

Ferguson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

N.

Schools

University of California, Berkeley

Herbert Hoover Junior High School

Oakland Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lloyd

Birth City, State, Country

Oakland

HM ID

FER02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/9/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/30/2011

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Lloyd N. Ferguson (1918 - 2011 ) was instrumental in building the doctoral program in chemistry at Howard University, the first of its kind at any historically black college or university. He joined the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles in 1965 and co-founded the National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

Employment

Howard University

California State University, Los Angeles

Works Progress Administration

Southern Pacific Railroad

North Carolina A&T State University

Carlsberg Laboratorium

University of Nairobi

Bennett College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lloyd Ferguson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother and father's family histories

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his father coming to California from Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about how his parents met in California

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about living near his grandparents as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in sports

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about selling cleaning products that he made in his backyard laboratory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lloyd Ferguson explains how the depression affected his family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about growing up and the influence of church

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in becoming a scientist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about having fun despite the Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his job after high school at the Southern Pacific Railroad

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about going to the University of California, Berkeley for college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working as a red cap while attending school at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his classes and professors at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his submarine project at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working in the radiation laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working with Melvin Calvin in the University of California, Berkeley radiation laboratory

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson describes his research advisor at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls meeting his wife and teaching at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his work in the chemistry department at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about chemistry textbooks

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about doing research in organic chemistry at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the textbooks that he wrote

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his research on the taste and color of organic compounds at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls other African Americans at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his first textbook and his sabbatical in Copenhagen

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the difference in resources between the University of California, Berkeley and Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his sabbatical in Zurich and working with Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Prelog

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about joining the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in golf

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his involvement with the FDA and Project SEED

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his 1971 sabbatical to Nairobi, Kenya

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers talks about MBRS and NOBCChE

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his awards and accolades

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments and shares his hopes for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife, children, and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls working with Melvin Calvin

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about starting the graduate chemistry program at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his memories of Sam Ashley, Percy Julian, and Herman Branson

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers playing bridge at California State University, Los Angeles

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his research

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson has trouble remembering his fellow colleagues at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife and his personal life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his teaching and his textbooks

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early interest in science

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his career after leaving the University of California, Berkeley

DASession

1$2

DATape

1$6

DAStory

12$10

DATitle
Lloyd Ferguson explains how the depression affected his family
Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early interest in science
Transcript
Well tell us what happened, I guess, cause your family experienced an economic hit during the Depression [The Great Depression, 1930s], right?$$Yeah.$$Well, tell us what happened?$$Well, of course, I was little, didn't pay much attention, but my father [Noel Swithin Ferguson] lost his job, yes. And he couldn't afford, he couldn't afford keeping up the apartment building. The rent that came in, I mean a lot of the, a lot of people lost their jobs and they couldn't pay their rent and so forth, and he couldn't maintain the apartment building. And so he wanted to get rid of it and he tried to burn it. And that wasn't successful, so he had to go to jail for that, for arson, for a year or something.$$He was desperate trying to collect the insurance money?$$Yes, and get rid of it. I don't remember how many units it had. It was a big building there. But that's the only thing I remember at that time.$$That must have been devastating for your family, for your father to go to jail?$$Yes, right. I guess that's where he was when I graduated from college, I believe, yeah. He was still there when I graduated from college [1940]. So he spent some time.$$That's a long time to spend, it seems to me, a long time to spend for the crime.$$Yeah.$$Well, okay. So was your mother [Gwendolyn Louise Johnson Ferguson] still working?$$Yeah, she was working. As I say, she was an elevator operator, and sometimes she'd go out and serve meals for people who wanted a waitress, and you know, served meals.$$Okay, almost like a catering business or like a--$$Well, she didn't provide the food. She'd just come in and cook or not so much cooking even, just preparing it and serving it, making extra.$$Okay, she was part of the wait staff of catering?$$Yes.$$Okay. So did you participate in that too?$$No.$$So you had to live with your grandparents [maternal grandparents] after that?$$I spent, yeah, I lived with my grandparents. I'd sleep over their house too. We, they wasn't very far apart so I'm running back and forth and so forth, but most of the time I was spending with my grandparents. And then my cousins would come in and visit and other grandchildren would come in and visit and we'd play and so forth.$Were there any subjects you didn't do well in when you were in high school [Oakland Technical High School]?$$Well, I don't know. None that, maybe when I found out I wasn't gonna do well, maybe I got out of it. I don't remember.$$(Laughter). So the high school, did you go to high school in Oakland [California]?$$Yes. The teacher was very encouraging.$$You had good chemistry teachers?$$Yes.$$And so they encouraged you to go to Berkley [University of California, Berkeley]?$$I think so, probably so.$$Were you able to do lab work in the--$$high school?$$--in the high school? Did they have any labs?$$Yes, do some labs, and that's when I built a lab in the backyard and--$$Oh, you did. Did you blow up anything?$$Oh, once in a while I'd have an explosion and get a lot of fun out of it.$$(Laughter). Did you ever get in trouble with your parents?$$No, not with my parents and so forth. Sometimes teachers, the school didn't want me to fool with explosives, and that's where the fun was.$$(Laughter) How did you get interested in explosives and chemistry?$$Oh, I don't know, by a school teacher who was, let's see. I guess it was a high school teacher encouraged me to do experiments, and I learned about explosives and colors and so forth. And I just built a little lab out in the backyard and worked and played out there with the chemicals.$$By yourself or you had--$$Yeah.$$And so you were reading the books? This was in high school--$$Yes, right.$$--so you would read and figure out how to do some experiments and things?$$Yes, and explore a little bit.$$(Laughter). It was always fun.$$So that was, when you were in high school, was it close to being a senior or were you graduating or?$$No, let's see, it was probably junior and senior high years in high school, and I'd have fun with these chemicals. So I built this lab in the backyard and work out there.$$Where'd you get the chemicals? Do you remember?$$Oh, just buy them at stores.$$Oh, I see.$$Some drugstores or some--$$So you just used things that you could buy and then--$$Yes, oh, yes.$$And do you remember what made you apply to Berkley [University of California, Berkeley]?$$To do what?$$To, why did you want to go to school at Berkley?$$I don't know. It just seemed to be the only place to go.$$It was right there in town, huh?$$

Julius Taylor

Physicist and physics professor Julius Henry Taylor was born on February 15, 1914, in Cape May, New Jersey, to Julia and Coleman Taylor. Taylor was one of six children including Morris, Margaret, Coleman, Elizabeth, and Mildred. He attended Middle Township High School in New Jersey, where he played trumpet in the band and was an avid basketball player and track star. He graduated in 1932, and did not plan to attend college until he met his wife, Patricia Spaulding, who encouraged him to do so and the two married in 1937. The following year, Taylor earned his A.B. degree in physics from Lincoln University. He went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in solid state physics from the University of Pennsylvania.

In the 1940s, Taylor published scholarly papers while under contract with the U.S. Navy. In 1945, he became chairman of the Department of Physics at West Virginia State College. Four years later, he joined the faculty at Morgan State University at the insistence of then-president Dr. Martin David Jenkins. Taylor began building the physics department and became its first chairperson in 1954, after earning tenure as a professor. Taylor also started the first golf team at Morgan State University that went on to win the CIAA championship. A well-known golfer, Taylor continued to play 18 holes through 2009. During his years as a professor, Taylor mentored several students at Morgan State University who went on to get their Ph.Ds in physics including Dr. Frederick Oliver who would later be hired as chair of the Physics Department. In 1955, Taylor served as an editor for The Negro In Science, a book addressing prominent African American scientists and their research. During his time at Morgan State University, Taylor served as a liaison to the Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Science Foundation, along with several other scientific societies and committees. He also lectured at American University before his retirement in 1986 when he became professor emeritus at Morgan State. After his retirement, Taylor continued to mentor students in junior and senior high schools in the Baltimore Public School System. In 1998, Taylor served as a contractor to NASA.

Taylor is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate degrees in Science from Grambling State University and Lincoln University. In 1963, he was named Alumnus of the Year by Lincoln University and in 1976, he received a Distinguished Service Citation from the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has been a member and president of the executive committee of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers as well as a section representative.

Taylor has two children, Trena Taylor Brown and Dwight Spaulding Taylor.

Julius Henry Taylor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2010.

Julius Taylor passed away on August 27, 2011.

Accession Number

A2010.066

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2010 |and| 7/14/2010

Last Name

Taylor

Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Henry

Schools

Middle Township High School

Lincoln University

University of Pennsylvania

Middle Township Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Julius

Birth City, State, Country

Cape May

HM ID

TAY09

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

How are you getting along?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

2/15/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

8/27/2011

Short Description

Physics professor and physicist Julius Taylor (1914 - 2011 ) established the physics department at Morgan State University, and has been lauded for his mentoring and teaching. His research focuses on solid state physics and high-pressure systems.

Employment

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Morgan State University

West Virginia State College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julius Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor describes the person who encouraged him to attend college

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor describes his college decision and the thoughts of his future wife

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julius Taylor describes his elementary and high school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julius Taylor remembers his childhood home and community

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julius Taylor describes his childhood influences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor remembers feeling the effects of segregation on a school trip

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor recalls his desire to play the trumpet

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor describes his first encounter with science

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor discusses his interest in track and field

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor describes the effect of his wife and her family on his career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor describes his father and his religious faith

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor shares his memories of Lincoln University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julius Taylor talks about his wife and children

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor recalls memories of his graduate career at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor describes his research in solid state physics

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor talks about pioneers in solid state physics

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor describes his building the Morgan State University physics program

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor talks about the growth of the Morgan State University physics department in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor explains his teaching philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor describes the physics professor at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor describes his employment at the West Virginia State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor recalls starting the golf team at Morgan State University, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor talks about the benefits of golf

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor recounts his experiences as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor describes his graduate thesis

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor describes federal funding for research and teaching

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor recalls his professional affiliations

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julius Taylor describes his fondness for golf

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julius Taylor discusses receiving his doctorate and not being given a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Julius Taylor describes his role as a mentor

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor reflects on his role as a mentor and his awards

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor talks about his community involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor discusses physics and the changing student body

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor talks about his strategies as a teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor describes his role at Morgan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor describes Morgan State University's relationship with Goddard Space Flight Center and the Afro-American Institute of Science

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor notes that his relationship with Morgan State University's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Julius Taylor discusses his book, "The Negro in Science"

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Julius Taylor comments on integration and its effect on education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor discusses his professional associations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Julius Taylor discusses the influence of politics in science

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Julius Taylor discusses his role in the design of Calloway Hall at Morgan State University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Julius Taylor talks about his love of fishing

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Julius Taylor discusses his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Julius Taylor comments on university presidents

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Julius Taylor describes his honorary doctorate from Grambling University

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Julius Taylor opines on building a strong university

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Julius Taylor responds to questions regarding advice to today's students

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Julius Taylor talks about the future of physics in solving world problems

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Julius Taylor reflects on how the field of physics has changed

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Julius Taylor comments on his worry about Morgan State University's physics department

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Julius Taylor comments on how he wants to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Julius Taylor describes his work at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Julius Taylor describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Julius Taylor describes the person who encouraged him to attend college
Julius Taylor describes his research in solid state physics
Transcript
We're now gonna turn to your mother [Julia Price Taylor].$$My mother was a maid and she worked in downtown Cape May Courthouse. In fact, she worked at a drugstore, and it's an interesting thing that the druggist liked me. And he gave me those jobs to do around the drugstore. And later on in life, he told me, he says, you know, he says, you don't have to do that hard work your father's [Coleman H. Taylor] doing. He says, you can go to college, and you can enjoy the American Dream. Well, at that time, I didn't know what the American Dream was, but (laughter) I found out later, he was right. But, yeah, I think he had a very important impact. I went to college with fifty dollars, a trumpet and a suitcase. The fifty dollars I got from that druggist to help me go to college. In fact, when I put the money up with bursar at the college, he looked at it and he smiled. Now, this was right after the '29 [1929] crash. He said, Mr. Taylor, he said, this doesn't meet your initial payment. I said, "I know that, sir." He said, "But you'll be hearing from home, won't you?" So I said, "If I hear from home, I said, they'll be asking me for money." So, and it was the truth (laughter).$$Okay.$Now, what was your research?$$Solid state physics.$$Solid state physics.$$In fact, there's two, there were two articles in that thing that I gave you.$$Yes.$$Did you see them?$$Yes, I saw them, but--But tell me about that research?$$Well, that research was, if you take a solid state crystal and compress it, all the, everything changes, everything changes. Well, my advisor said, "Jules, I got an idea about what we can do." And I asked him, "What can we do?" And he says, "We can put pressure on these silicon, germanium that are, and we can study the mobility of the ions and Hall effect and some other things, resistance and says that'll be a good thesis problem for you." So we took a hydraulic jack. With the hydraulic jack I could get two thousand atmospheres [pressure measurement]. And so I studied the germ--germanium and a couple of other things. And then I wrote an article for the "Physical Review". And then Harvard [University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] grabbed it, Harvard grabbed it--no, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts]. MIT grabbed it. They could go to many times the pressure I was going to, but you know what would happen? They got the same results that I got, same results, but at two thousand atmospheres.$$Now, initially you started out wanting to be a teacher--$$Yeah.$$--and you wanted to be a teacher at the high-school level versus until you realized you had to have physics. And then you realized you wanted to be a college professor.$$Yeah.$$Where did you passion for research come from?$$Well, I was always curious about things, always curious about things. Why does this happen, you know? I wanted to know why.$$But when I look back at the, many of the people who were of your generation who were teaching--$$They weren't thinking about physics.$$They weren't thinking, but even those who were thinking about physics, they weren't thinking about doing research. They weren't thinking about publishing. You did.$$Yeah, well, I just loved, I loved to be in that lab, and I loved to dope those crystals with arsenic and other things to change their qualities and properties. And, in fact, we didn't know anything at all about a clean room. So I was in charge of doing the doping at the University of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] in physics. So my advisor would say to me, he says, "Dope up such and such and such." So, I'd start doping and I'd melt the whole thing and defuse it with the dope. It'd come out perfect, perfectly.$$And for a layman who is watching this, what do you mean by doping?$$Doping is, you see, you take something out, take something out of a crystal, you got some calcium. You take some calcium out and put something in that place for that calcium. See, that's doping it, that's doping it. So, but let me tell you know what happened. Then the professor would say to me, he says, "Jules, that last batch you made wasn't like the first batch." I said, "I made it the same way." He said, "Well, something's going on around here." You know what it was? We didn't know anything about a clean room. And the woman would come in and sweep and the dust would fly all around the room. You can't have any dust, you know. It took a long while to find out about that. But we found out about, um-hum, we found out about it. And from then on we didn't have her, she wasn't allowed in the room at all. She wasn't allowed in the room at all.