Person: Mcdaniel, Reuben R.
Reuben R McDaniel was the fifth African American to be awarded a Ph.D. in mathematics. He served most of his career at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), as head of mathematics, then as Director of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Let us note at this point that there are various inconsistencies in the biographies of Reuben McDaniel.
- We will not list other inconsistencies but attempt to give as accurate information here as we can.
- Reuben McDaniel attended Hughesville School in Centreville, Fairfax County.
- Minnie Beckwith Hughes (1871-1975) was the teacher at Hughesville School from 1911 to 1916 so she taught McDaniel for the last three of his five years at school.
- Frequently the evidence of its having found its mark is not apparent for years.
- This is an interesting comment since clearly one of her arrows found its mark with McDaniel.
- After Minnie Hughes left Hughesville School in 1916, Lillie C McDaniel, Reuben McDaniel's eldest sibling, was appointed as the teacher at this school.
- Reuben McDaniel studied at Hughesville School for five years, the required length of schooling which had to be taken by African Americans at this time.
- Reuben had ideas about how to obtain better yields by rotating crops.
- William Moore was a labourer, working in a shop, and Maria made extra money by working as a laundress in her own home.
- He was not, however, content to spend his life doing such jobs and wanted to continue his education.
- Garnet Crummell Wilkinson (1879-1969) had studied at M Street High School in Washington D.C., the first public high school for African American students and at Oberlin College before studying for an LLB at Howard University Law School and later a Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
- M Street High School was renamed Dunbar High School in 1916, the year Wilkinson became its principal.
- With advice from Wilkinson, Reuben McDaniel was able to complete his elementary education at night school while continuing his job delivering mail.
- But high school was only for the day time, so Roosevelt found a night job for Reuben and registered Reuben into Dunbar High School.
- All that is certain in the data is that he was given the name Reuben R McDaniel.
- The fact that others with the name McDaniel in the same area had the name Roosevelt, would make it likely that he was registered with that name at birth.
- Another point to note is that when he later studied at university he used the name Reuben Roosvelt McDaniel (with no 'e' in Roosvelt) and the spelling Roosvelt appears on his theses.
- The spelling Roosvelt also appears on his marriage certificate.
- At Dunbar High School, the school where Garnet Crummell Wilkinson was principal, McDaniel did well, in fact so well that in 1924 he was awarded a Rutgers University general scholarship to study at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
- This scholarship supported him during his four years at Rutgers from 1924 to 1928.
- At Rutgers he majored in mathematics and physics.
- He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa during his junior year and graduated from Rutgers in June 1928 with a Bachelor of Science degree.
- After graduating, he was appointed in June 1928 as an instructor to teach physics and mathematics at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- This university was the first institution of higher education for African Americans in the South and, being founded in 1865, was among the oldest such institutions in the United States.
- At the time of the 1930 US Census, McDaniel is recorded as living at the University, one of 17 teachers there.
- The president of the University was Joseph Leishman Peacock (1873-1954) who had been born in Paisley, Scotland, of Scottish parents.
- McDaniel taught at Shaw University until February 1931, and was then appointed as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Virginia State College, Petersburg, Virginia, taking up the appointment in September 1931.
- He had been studying at Cornell University for a Master's Degree and he was awarded a Master of Science degree by Cornell on 30 September 1931 having written the thesis On Certain Definitions of the Definite Integral.
- Nannie Finney had been born in Cumberland Virginia on 8 May 1908 and had attended Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute before studying at Virginia State College.
- she completed the two year certificate in secretarial science becoming the first graduate of the newly established Department of Business.
- He had an outstanding career: B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University (1964), M.A. from the University of Akron (1968), and an Ed.D. in higher education from Indiana University (1971).
- His career in university education led to numerous awards and recognitions.
- He died in February 2016.
- Roosevelt Phillips was a TV film technician working for the Petersburg TV Corporation.
- They were divorced on 29 May 1981.
- In October 1936 McDaniel matriculated at Cornell University as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
- For 1936-1937 he was granted a General Education Board Fellowship, and for 1937-1938 the Erastus Brooks Fellowship in Mathematics at Cornell University.
- His doctoral studies were supervised by Burton Wadsworth Jones (1902-1983) who had studied for his Ph.D. at Chicago advised by L E Dickson.
- Burton W Jones had been awarded his Ph.D. in 1928 for his thesis Representation by Positive Ternary Quadratic Forms.
- McDaniel was awarded a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1938 for his thesis Approximation to Algebraic Numbers by Means of Periodic Sequences of Transformations on Quadratic Forms.
- Leon Charve using principally the same method but a reduction due to Selling develops a similar periodic sequence for quadratic ternary forms.
- The present thesis extends the process used by Hermite and later by Charve to quadratic n-ary forms ...
- We note that when McDaniel was awarded a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1938 he became the fifth African American to be awarded such a degree.
- The four before him were Elbert Frank Cox (Cornell University, 1925), Dudley Weldon Woodard (University of Pennsylvania, 1928), William Schieffelin Claytor (University of Pennsylvania, 1933), and Walter Richard Talbot (University of Pittsburgh, 1934).
- Brother McDaniel, on leave of absence, a Phi Beta Kappa Key man from Ruthers and an M.S. from Cornell.
- He returns to us a Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornel and a member of Sigma Xi, honorary society, of the same institution, to resume his duties as head of the Department of Mathematics.
- After receiving her Master's degree, she accepted a position on the faculty of the Business Department where she taught courses in secretarial science, economics and introduction to business.
- Mrs Mac's classes gave students practical skills that would serve them throughout their lives as well as a high level understanding of the business world.
- Her legacy as a professor extends far and wide.
- Card parties at their home were known for good bridge, great gossip and wonderful food.
- They never skipped convocation, commencement, honour's day or a home football game.
- Young faculty members were as welcome at their home as the College president.
- The McDaniels could be counted on and Nannie was the foundation of that home.
- Rheba was taught by legendary professors, Dr John M Hunter, who later became Chairman of the Physics Department, and Dr Reuben McDaniel, Sr., Chairman of the Mathematics Department.
- The two had tremendously high expectations of their students and challenged them to aspire to become the best version of themselves.
- Mrs Fearn accepted their challenge and thrived under their instruction and mentorship.
- Dr West is known for her contributions to the mathematical modelling of the shape of the earth, and her work on the development of Global Positioning System (GPS).
- Both Reuben and Nannie McDaniel were active members of the Zion Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia.
- Reuben introduced Walter Elias (1931-2018) to this church early in Elias' career at Virginia State.
- We note that Elias went on to serve at professor of mathematics at Virginia State becoming head of mathematics.
- Nannie McDaniel joined the Zion Baptist Church in Petersburg in 1943 and was church treasurer for twenty years.
- In 1949, McDaniel was appointed as acting dean at Virginia State College, then as Director of the School of Arts and Sciences.
- McDaniel began to suffer poor health and was diagnosed with cancer.
- When his condition deteriorated, he was taken to the Medical College of Virginia Hospital where he died of arrhythmia due to "disseminated carcinoma of the rectum and prostate." He was buried in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.
Born 27 July 1902, Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Died 19 January 1975, Richmond, Virginia, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
African American, Origin Usa
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive