Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

James Dallas Burrus

Educator in Virginia

alumnus image

Dartmouth College A.M.

Class of 1879

Fisk Univ (A.B.)

Born  1846  Murfreesboro TN

Died 1928 Nashville TN

Quotes from Biographical Sources

In the fall of 1877 there came to Dartmouth to do graduate work in mathematics a man having some admixture of negro blood. He remained for two years, and won the high respect of the student body for his evident sincerity of character and his determination to make the most of his opportunity for study. At that time no degrees were awarded at Dartmouth for graduate work, but at the conclusion of his studies, in 1879, he received the honorary degree of Master of Arts.

This man, James Dallas Burrus, died December 5, 1928, at his home in Nashville, Tenn. He was born in Rutherford county, Tenn., October 14, 1846, and graduated as A. B. from Fisk University, Nashville, in 1875. He is said to have been the first negro graduate of a liberal arts college south of the Mason and Dixon line and the first negro to receive a Master of Arts degree from an accredited college in America.

He was in the first class to graduate from Fisk, and was the first negro teacher at that institution. After teaching for some time he entered business, and was for many years a druggist in Nashville. With rigorous economy he saved his money, avowing that in doing so he was working for Fisk University, and carried out this purpose by leaving in his will his entire property to the University to be used in endowment and for the erection of a Burrus Memorial Hall.

Necrology. (Feb 1929). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 21(4), 257.

Other source(s)

  1. Richardson, Joe M. (1965). A Negro Success Story: James Dallas Burrus. The Journal of Negro History, 50(4), 274-282. Retrieved from
  2. James Dallas Burrus Collection, 1827-1929 - Fisk University Archives. (2006). Retrieved from

Profile image source: Public domain