In Memoriam: Adelaide Cromwell, 1919-2019

Adelaide Cromwell, professor of sociology emeritus and founder of the African American studies program at Boston University, passed away on June 8, 2019. She was 99 years old.

Dr. Cromwell first joined the Boston University faculty in 1951. Two years later, she co-founded the university’s African Studies Center. In 1969, she founded the university’s African American studies program, the country’s second such program and the first to offer a graduate degree in the subject. Earlier in her career, Dr. Cromwell served as the first African American faculty member at both Hunter College in New York City and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

In addition to her academic career, Dr. Cromwell was the author of Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation 1692-1972 (University of Missouri Press, 2006) and The Other Brahmins: Boston’s Black Upper Class 1750-1950 (University of Arkansas Press, 1995).

Dr. Cromwell was a graduate of Smith College. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate from Radcliffe College at Harvard University.

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  1. My mother was professor emerita at Boston University, whose faculty she joined in 1953. she was the author or co-author of several other books investigating the black leadership class in the United States and Africa, most notably biography of Elizabeth Casely-Hayford, whom she labeled an Afro-Victorian feminist. Most notably, she deferred her scholarly writing during the Sixties and Seventies to concentrate on supporting the rising generation of Afro-American students as founder of the Afro-American Studies program at BU, its first director, and advisor and counselor to black undergraduates, graduate students, and junior faculty. This period, along with her previous position at BU’s African Studies Center, displayed her priority as a nurturing figure in the black academic tradition to which our family has long been connected.

    • Dear Sir/Madam, I am Adenike Ogunkoya.a UK born and based historian. Dr Adelaide Cromwell, wrote a book on Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford, An African Victorian feminist.. I wrote to Dr Cromwell twice in her latter years and very graciously she replied. I would like to email her son Anthony Cromwell Hill.

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