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New historic marker in Vicksburg honors first African American woman PhD in Education

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Vicksburg is full of history. Whether it’s the infamous Siege of Vicksburg in 1863 during the Civil War, the Vicksburg National Military Park or being home to dozens of historic landmarks, the city’s rich and colorful past continues to entice residents and visitors to explore.

The McAllister House in Vicksburg. Image from MDAH.

This past Saturday, Aug. 10, more history was made when the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the City of Vicksburg honored Vicksburg native Jane Ellen McAllister with a historical marker placed in front of her former home at 1403 Main Street.

Born in Vicksburg in 1899, McAllister graduated from high school at age 15, and went on to enroll in Talladega College in Alabama, graduating with honors in 1919. She earned her masters degree from the University of Michigan in 1921.

In 1929, McAllister became the first African American woman in the United States to receive her doctorate in education. She received the degree from Columbia University in New York. From there, McAllister went on to

Jane Ellen McAllister. Image public domain.

become a nationally renowned professor of education at Fisk University, in Nashville, Tenn. She also taught at Virginia State University and The Hampton Institute in Virginia, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Miner Teachers College in Washington, D.C., where she taught for 25 years, and at Jackson State University in Mississippi, where she taught from from 1952 to 1967. The McAllister-Whitehead residence hall at JSU is named for her and her colleague, Mary Whiteside.

McAllister’s teaching career lasted for more than 40 years. She retired in 1970, returning to her beloved hometown, where she lived in her family home until she passed away in 1996.

Today there are plans to turn her house in Vicksburg into a museum.

McAllister-Whitehead women’s residence hall on the campus of Jackson State University.

Copyright © 2021 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News