Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

John Wesley Cromwell, Jr.

First African American CPA and educator in Washington, D.C.

alumnus image

Dartmouth College A.B.

Class of 1906

Phi Beta Kappa

1907 Dartmouth (M.A.)

Born  1883  Washington DC

Died 1971 Washington DC

Quotes from Biographical Sources

John Wesley Cromwell, Jr., 88, died in his home, 1815 13th St. NW, Washington, D. C. on December 16, suddenly with no pain. The first black American to become a certified public accountant, he was born in Washington September 2, 1883, the son of a prominent Washington lawyer, historian, and publisher in the late 19th century of a newspaper, The People's Advocate. John fitted for college in the Preparatory Dept. of Howard University, and on entering Dartmouth, quickly developed as an excellent student, specializing in mathematics and astronomy, winner of the Thayer Prize in Mathematics and attaining Phi Beta Kappa.

He remained in Dartmouth for an extra year and earned his M.A. degree. Always respected and liked by his fellow students, he became a loyal and generous alumnus. He regularly contributed to the Alumni Fund and attended nearly all of our reunions through the 55th. Returning to Washington in 1907, he became well known as an exacting, admirable high school teacher, instructing in German, Latin, and mathematics from 1907 to 1930. He taught himself in accounting and in 1921 became a C.P.A. From 1930-33 he served as Comptroller of Howard University. From 1933 until retirement in 1956 he was successfully engaged in the general practice of accounting. He was a member of the American Institute of Accountants, the American Mathematical Society, and the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. He learned to play bridge at Dartmouth, and in later years became an expert who helped found the American Bridge Association.

John married Yetta Mavritte in 1918, a cousin of Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts; they were divorced in 1945. Their daughter Adelaide (AB Smith, AM University of Pennsylvania, PhD Radcliffe), now Mrs. Henry A. Hill, is a Professor of Sociology at Boston University. Other survivors are a grandson and a sister, Dr. Otelia Cromwell, 98, who resided with John; she was the first black graduate of Smith College and is now a retired Professor of English. To all of them is extended the sympathy of the class of 1906.

(Mar 1972). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. 64(6), 73.

Other source(s)

  1. (Jan 6, 1972). Jet Magazine, 17.
  2. Staff, MSRC, "Cromwell Family" (2015). Manuscript Division. Paper 46. Retrieved from
  3. Anita Dennis. Black CPA Centennial celebrates first Black CPA. Journal of Accountancy.

Profile image source: Dartmouth Aegis 1906