Blacks @ Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

African Americans @ Dartmouth College 1775-1960

Dartmouth 1800

Dartmouth Black Students From The 18th To Mid-20th Century

First Ivy League College Black Graduates

Prince Saunders 1808
Saunders 1808

During the time of American slavery, only Dartmouth and a few other colleges opened doors to men of African descent. Caleb Watts, raised as a slave, was tutored in 1774-75 by Dartmouth's founder, Rev. Eleazer Wheelock at Moor's Charity School, a fore­runner of the College. Prince Saunders, son of a freed slave, studied at Moor's in 1808 before emi­grating to Haiti to counsel the republic's leaders. In 1828 Edward Mitchell earned a bache­lor's degree, 42 years before other Ivy League schools grad­uated self-identified men of color.

Before the Civil Rights Era

Matthew W. Bullock 1904
Matthew W.
Bullock 1904

By mid-20th century 181 black men had attended Dartmouth College and Medical School, the second largest to enroll in a New England col­lege. As trail­blazers they broke new ground across diverse paths. Black students on campus were suc­cess­ful as scholars and scholar-athletes. Nine­teen per­cent of grad­uates of the College earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. After college most entered the pro­fessions, one-half as physicians and one-fourth as educators, while others became leading citizens across the nation.

Before the Civil War

Edward G. Draper
Edward G.
Draper 1854

Before 1865 Dartmouth educated twenty black men at the College and Medical School. Fifteen joined free blacks as Liberian colonists. Liberia’s first black physician, Samuel F. McGill (DMS 1837), and first black lawyer, Edward G. Draper (DC 1855), were Dartmouth men. Other black graduates labored to secure rights on American soil. Thomas Paul, Jr. (DC 1841) and Jonathan C. Gibbs (DC 1852) joined aboli­tionist move­ments. William B. Ellis (DMS 1858) served as an assistant surgeon in the Civil War and later on the medical staff of Freedman's Hospital.

Legacy of Dartmouth's Early Black Alumni

Earnest E. Just
Ernest E.
Just 1907

The historical black alumni of Dartmouth, al­though present in small num­bers on the campus at any given time, estab­lished a collec­tive legacy that is founda­tional. Among them were Ernest E. Just (DC 1907), the Black Apollo of Science, and many other prom­inent men recognized today for their sterl­ing accom­plishments. They came to Dartmouth from rural byways and crowded urban streets to inscribe their mark on the insti­tution of the granite state. Today more than 4000 Dartmouth black alumni ‐ men and women ‐ stand on the shoulders of Dartmouth's early black alumni.