Marjorie Lee Browne

born: September 9, 1914; died October 19, 1979

Birthplace: Memphis, Tennesee

BS (1935) Howard University; MS (1939) University of Michigan

Ph.D. (1950) University of Michigan

Last known position, North Carolina Central University

In 2001, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor began a lecture series honoring Marjorie Lee Browne. The web site of the Marjorie Lee Browne colloquium

Marjorie Lee Browne received her B.S. in Mathematics from Howard University (1935). She received her M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1939; and thus, she was one of the first few (I know of just three others at that time) african american women with a graduate Mathematics degree. Ms. Browne taught at Wiley College while continuing graduate work during the summers, and received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan (1950). Just six months earlier, in 1949, the second African American woman earned a Ph. D. in Mathematics. This was Evelyn Boyd Granville who received a Ph.D. from Yale University. Thus, Dr. Browne was the third African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics After receving her Ph.D., Dr. Browne taught at North Carolina Central University until the time of her death in 1979. Among her students to earn the Ph.D. in Mathematics were Joseph Battle, William Fletcher, Asamoah Nkwanta, Nathan Simms, .

Browne's father had attended college for a couple of years - something quite rare in 1914 - and around there home town, Memphis, he was known as a whiz at mental mathematics. He shared his enthusiasm with his children and Marjorie "always loved mathematics." With his Civil Service job as a railway postal clerk, he was much better off than nearly all blacks and he felt keenly his obligation to share his good fortune with others us Marjorie was enrolled in LeMoyne High school, a private school started after the Civil War by the Methodist Church to educate Negroes. Though she reached college during the depression years, she was able to attend Howard University by a combination of scholarships, jobs, and loans.

Dr. Browne had a deep interest in continuing education for secondary school teachers. She ran many summer institutes for this purpose, and authored four notes explicitly notes for their use: Sets, Logic, and Mathematicial Thought (1957), Introduction to Linear Algebra (1959), Elementary Matrix Algebra (1969), and Algebraic Structures (1974). She published:

A note on the classical groups, Amer. Math. Monthly 62 (1955). 424--427.

Additional References: [fletcher1], [fletcher2], [giles], [kenschaft1], [kenschaft4]

We also had help from Robert Megginson and the Mathematics Department archives of the University of Michigan

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