Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: A Centennial Celebration

The “Seven Jewels”: Students, Then Brothers

Eugene Kinckle Jones, 1885-1953

Birthplace: Richmond, VA
Cornell Attendance and Degree: Attended Cornell from 1906-1908; earned a Master of Arts in Sociology in 1908
Occupation: Leader in social work and educational organizations and First Executive Secretary of the Urban League
Role in Fraternity: Has the distinction of being a Jewel and first initiate; co-creator of the fraternity name; President of Alpha Chapter; and Founder of Beta (Howard University), Gamma (Virginia Union University), and Delta (University of Toronto, Canada) Chapters.

Eugene Kinckle Jones’ correspondence with Marian Anderson in the Marian Anderson Papers, folder 2927, is held at the University of Pennsylvania, Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Early Photograph of Alpha Chapter Members, 1907. [view]

Pictured are Founder Vertner W. Tandy, Founder Eugene Kinckle Jones, Founder Robert H. Ogle, James H. Morton, Founder Nathaniel Allison Murray, and Gordon Jones.

Cornell University Graduate Application of Eugene Kinckle Jones, January 28, 1907. [view image 1] | [view image 2] | [view image 3] | [view image 4]

Letter from Walter Francis Willcox, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, to Thomas Frederick ("Teefy") Crane, Dean of the University Faculty. Ithaca, January 30, 1907. [view]

Dean Willcox writes to Dean Crane that Jones’s undergraduate training has not adequately prepared him for a Master of Arts degree at Cornell and that he might seek an undergraduate degree first.

Jones attended Virginia Union University and graduated with an AB in 1906. A historically black university, Virginia Union University was founded in 1865 as Richmond Theological Institute with the motto “Free the mind of the newly emancipated through education in a humanistic environment.” In 1899, three years before Jones matriculated, Wayland College & Seminary and Richmond Theological Institute merged to form Virginia Union University.

Recommendation Card for Continuation of Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts. Issued by the Special Committee to Jones. September 17, 1907 [view]

About eight months after Dean Willcox’s letter stating that Jones was not prepared for a graduate degree at Cornell, he was recommended for continuation of candidacy for the degree of Master of Arts.

Master’s Thesis of Eugene Kinckle Jones. The Progress of the Negro American Since Their Emancipation, 1908 [view PDF] (16MB)

Jones’ Master’s thesis explores the health, education, political and economic life, and morality of African Americans since the end of slavery.

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