BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROFILE: Euphemia Lofton Haynes

Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics.

Euphemia Lofton Haynes“Martha Euphemia Lofton was born in Washington, D.C. in 1890, the first child and only daughter of Dr. Willian Lofton and Mrs. Lavinia Day Lofton. Her father, Dr. William S. Lofton was a renown African-American dentist and financier in the African-American business community. Lavinia Day Lofton, her mother, was active in the Catholic church. After graduating from Washington D.C. Miner Normal School with distinction, she went on to earn an undergraduate mathematics major (and psychology minor) from Smith College in 1914. In 1917 she married Harold Appo Haynes.

Haynes pursued graduate studies in mathematics and education at the University of Chicago, earning a masters degree in education in 1930. She continued her graduate work in mathematics at the Catholic University of America where in 1943 she became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Her dissertation on “The Determination of Sets of Independent Conditions Characterizing Certain Special Cases of Symmetric Correspondences” was written under the supervision of Professor Aubrey Landrey.

Euphemia Haynes devoted her life to education in the Washington, D.C. area for forty-seven years, including teaching mathematics at Armstrong High School and Dunbar High School. She became a professor of mathematics at Miner Teachers College in 1930 where she established the mathematics department and served as chair of the Division of Mathematics and Business Education (in 1955 Minor Teachers College and Wilson Teachers College united to form the District of Columbia Teachers College.) From July 1966 to July 1967, Haynes served as the first woman to chair the District of Columbia School Board. She played a central role in the integration of the DC public schools. Upon her death, she left $700,000 to the Catholic University of America which was used to establish the Euphemia Lofton Haynes Chair in the Department of Education and to support a student loan fund in the School of Education.

In addition to her academic work, Euphemia Haynes also served as president of the Catholic Interracial Council of the District of Columbia and president of the Washington Archdiocesan Council on Catholic Women.” In 1959, she received the Papal medal, “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifex” for her service to the church and her community. It is the highest award that can be awarded to a layman by the papacy.

Sources: Euphemia Lofton Haynes and Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes.