Shaw, Esther Popel

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Unfamous First Page

In her 1984 research paper "The Presence of the Black American at Dickinson College from 1773 to the Present," Elaine Vivian Watson researched the influence of "Black America" upon Dickinson College. Her paper includes information on "unfamous firsts" at Dickinson as well as information on the Black Alumni Questionaire.
 
Some "Unfamous Firsts" Include:
 
1901: John Robert Paul Brock is the first black male student to graduate from Dickinson College.
 

Date: May 10, 1984
Alumni Questionnaire

In 1955, Ester Popel Shaw (class of 1919) responded to President Edel's Alumni Questionnaire. Popel Shaw, the first known African American female graduate from Dickinson College, fondly remembered her days at Dickinson. When asked what were the "greatest shortcoming of Dickinson College," Popel Shaw responded that "there were no shortcoming when I was a student. The school seemed to meet all my needs." Moreover, she explained that she was "proud of being one of Dickinson's daughters.'"

Date: January 15, 1955
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"Personal Adventures in Race Relations" by Esther Popel Shaw (class of1919), Dickinson's first African American female graduate, was published in 1946. It addresses the sources of prejudice and racism, and she urges in her introduction that cooperation is necessary to overcome these detrimental assumptions regarding African Americans. "At a time when all our energies are needed to meet and solve together the crucial problems of the postwar period, we find a large element of the population torn by resentment, suspicion and hatred.

Date: 1946
Esther Popel Shaw Discusses Racial Issues on Campus

This letter, dated September 5, 1945, was written by Esther Popel Shaw, the first African American female graduate of Dickinson College 1919, to Mr. Boyd Lee Spahr of the Board of Trustees. Writing from her post at the National Association of College Women, Esther Popel Shaw defends herself and her race against Spahr's "apparent lack of awareness of what constitutes acceptable designations when racial references are involved" as well as racial injustice when it comes to college housing for African American students.

Date: September 5, 1945
Esther A. B. Popel

Esther Popel, the first known African American woman to graduate from Dickinson College, was listed in the 1919-1920 yearbook. Described as quiet and "a true scholar," Popel commuted from Harrisburg to Dickinson every day. The Microcosm wrote, "We see her but we seldom hear her." Popel went on to become a poet of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

Date: 1919
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  • Lily Mault, class of 1895 (Law School) became the President of the Woodhaen Women's Republican Club.
  • Jessie Houck, class of 1901, married and become Mrs. N. H. Shaffer. She moved to Oak Lane.
  • Elizabeth M. Craighead, class of 1901, became a French teacher in a Worcester, MA High School.
  • Edith Super, class of 1902, married a Mr. Clifford Anderson. Both were from Bakersfield, California. They became the "happy parents" of David Byron.
Date: February 1924