717 WordsApr 30, 20153 Pages

born: December 5, 1895 died: November 28, 1969 | birth place: Evansville, Indiana | .. A.B. (1917) Indiana University
. | Ph.D. (1925) Cornell University thesis: Polynomial solutions of difference equations; advisor: William Lloyd Garrison |
Elbert F. Cox was born and raised in a college town in a racially mixed neighborhood, but at segregated schools. Infact his father, a school principal, had graduated from Evansville College and had done graduate work at Indiana University. Close knit and highly religious, the Cox family had a respect for learning that reflected the father's educational career. When young Elbert demonstrated unusual ability in high school mathematics and physics, he was directed toward Indiana University.
Elbert Cox earned his A.B. at Indiana University in 1917. Along with the three other African American graduates of Indiana that year, Cox had COLORED (the public description for African Americans) printed across his transcript. After serving in the US Army in France during World War I, he returned to pursue a career in teaching, as an instructor of mathematics at a high school in Henderson, Kentucky. In December of 1921 he applied for admission to Cornell University, one of seven American universities with a doctoral program in mathematics. One of his references wrote a positive letter followed by another letter anticipating "... certain difficulties for the young man because of the fact he is of the colored race." So Cox joined the faculty of Shaw University.
Cox was awarded an Erastus Brooks Fellowship in September 1922, and he enrolled in Cornell University. When Cox's thesis advisor William Lloyd Garrison Williams (also founder of the Canadian Mathematical Society) realized that Cox had the chance to be recognized not only as the first Black in the United States, but as the first Black in the world to receive a Ph.D. in

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