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Robert Beale

At the age of ninety-one, Robert Beale was still teaching. Born in Camden, New Jersey, on November 19, 1911, Beale moved with his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1919. After graduating from high school, Beale went to West Virginia State University in 1929, and graduated cum laude in 1932. From there he attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning his M.S. degree in chemistry in 1934. He returned to school at Penn State University, where he received his PhD in chemistry in 1942.

Beale began his teaching career at what is now known as Hutson-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, working in the chemistry department. After serving as a teacher and administrator at eleven different colleges during his career, including North Carolina A&T, the University of Maryland and Virginia Union, Beale retired in 1986. In 1990, Beale returned to teaching in the Prince George's County School District after hearing there was a shortage of black male teachers.

He taught at Suitland High School and took students on an annual "college tour," a five-day trip to various colleges in the South. He stayed active in the lives of his students, going to meet with parents and encouraging his students to further their education. His daughter, Joy Beale Mitchell, worked with him, serving as a media specialist at the school. He also had a son, Robert Beale, Jr.

Beale passed away on October 9, 2006 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2003.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2003

Last Name

Beale

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

South Philadelphia High School

West Virginia State University

University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

BEA02

Favorite Season

None

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

My Skin Covers Me Very Well. I Fit In It And I Don't Let Anyone In It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/19/1911

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cheesecake, Pig Feet

Death Date

10/9/2006

Short Description

Chemistry professor and high school chemistry teacher Robert Beale (1911 - 2006 ) served as a teacher and administrator at eleven different colleges during his sixty-year career, and continued to teach high school into his nineties.

Employment

Hutson-Tillotson College

North Carolina A&T State University

University of Maryland, College Park

Virginia Union University

Suitland High School

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Beale's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Robert Beale's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Beale lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Beale describes his maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Beale describes his maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Beale describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Beale describes his father's occupation, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Beale describes his father's occupation, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Beale describes the sights, sounds and smells of 1920s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Beale describes the sights, sounds and smells of 1920s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Beale describes the sights, sounds and smells of 1920s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 3

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Beale describes his childhood interests, activities and attending church in Camden, New Jersey and south Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Beale describes his family's musical abilities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Beale remembers the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1926

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Beale describes attending James Logan Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Beale describes attending Southern Manual Training High School for Boys, later South Philadelphia High School, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Beale describes his post-high school career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Beale explains how he attended West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Beale explains the significance of the second Morrill Act in 1890 to the establishment of southern black colleges and universities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Beale describes his experience as an undergraduate student at West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Beale describes his experience working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after graduating from college in 1931, during the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Beale talks about earning a master's degree and his first teaching job at Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Beale describes his tenure as an educator at Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Beale describes his tenure as an educator at Princess Anne College in Princess Anne, Maryland from 1936 to 1939

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Beale talks about earning his Ph.D. in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1942

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Beale describes meeting his wife and the birth of his two children

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Beale lists the twelve institutions where he taught chemistry

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Beale describes his tenure as an instructor at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Beale describes one of his most memorable teaching moments in the chemistry department at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Beale talks briefly about his retirement from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Beale remembers civil rights activity in Greensboro, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Beale talks about joining the faculty at Suitland High School in Forestville, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Beale describes his concerns and challenges as a high school educator

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Beale describes the most rewarding aspect of teaching

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Beale shares his teaching philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Beale describes how education has changed

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Beale describes how he maintains the energy to teach at ninety years old

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Beale describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Beale reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Beale remembers his childhood girlfriend

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Beale considers what he would have done differently in his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Beale describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Robert Beale describes his tenure as an instructor at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland
Robert Beale describes one of his most memorable teaching moments in the chemistry department at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Transcript
Alright, and the last college you taught at was not a historically black college, the University of Maryland, right in College Park [Maryland]?$$Right what happened was I decided when I was at Knoxville College [Knoxville, Tennessee]--I decided that well first of all I went there along with the philosophy that had guided me through years and that is that the black professionals should go south to work and help the black people, you see. So you noticed I was in the south all the time. Now I'm at Knoxville College and they ran out of money.$$They ran out of money?$$They ran out of money and a Presbyterian church owned the school and it didn't have enough money to pay me so I left there. Now I'm still living in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]--no well let me see, I'm a little confused there--however I left and through some connection in Maryland--I forget what it was--I was put on a project assignment at College Park and then I went on there as a teacher of chemistry and then as an assistant to provost as they call them.$$How long did you stay at the University of Maryland?$$Eleven years.$$Okay that's a long time.$$That was the longest tenure I had had (laughter) and now I have a tenure here of thirteen, this is my fourteenth year here.$$So you've been here [Suitland High School, Forestville, Maryland] longer than any other place, that you've ever taught (simultaneous).$$Any other place, right.$Before we get to this, I just want to ask you if there is something remarkable about your teaching career in colleges that you want to tell us about or some of experience that you--(simultaneous) (unclear)?$$Well for the most part in these colleges as I moved around, I was the chemistry department and I developed the chemistry department however you want to put it and I was well received. When I went to Southern University [Baton Rouge, Louisiana] as head of the chemistry department, the department had a reputation that nobody could pass, you see and I--and they also couldn't even get into classes in chemistry. So I told the president, I said well look set the class up for the chapel and I will meet them in the chapel and I would get up on the stage with a board and go on teaching them chemistry. I enjoyed that very much. Interesting thing about it is there was a piano in there and before they came in, I would get down there and play the piano (laughter). They would be coming in and I was banging away on the piano. But I did that sort of thing to help the situation, to cooperate and get it going. I'm talking about taking the large class in the chapel. So I have enjoyed my whole career ever since I almost messed up at Samuel Huston [College, later Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas] (laughter) but my guardian angel gave up her life to rescue me.