Skip to main content
Smith Libraries Exhibits

Adelaide Cromwell

Adelaide Cromwell Hill, Instructor of Sociology and Class of 1940, Smith College, c1949.


Between 1900 and 1949 there were on average two African American students per class at Smith. In the 1950s that figure increased to three to four students per class. In an effort to bring women of color to the faculty, Adelaide Cromwell, Smith College Class of 1940 and the niece of Otelia Cromwell, was hired in 1945, making her the first African American faculty member.

Cromwell taught in the Sociology department. She later taught at Radcliffe College then went on to a distinguished career at Boston University and founded the first Afro-American Studies program in the United States.