A black and white portrait of Edward Bouchet as a young man. He is wearing a suit. Style of photo appears to be from late 19th century.

Edward Alexander Bouchet was the sixth American to earn a Ph.D. in physics and the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in any field from an American university. He entered Yale College in 1870 and graduated summa cum laude and sixth in his class in 1874. He was nominated for Phi Beta Kappa that year—the first African American ever nominated for the society—but because Yale’s chapter of PBK was largely inactive for a period of more than ten years, he was not elected until the chapter was reorganized in 1884. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Bouchet continued studying at Yale, receiving his Ph.D. in physics in 1876 with a dissertation entitled “Measuring Refractive Indices.” Dr. Bouchet dedicated his life and career to the academic education of younger African Americans, teaching chemistry and physics at high schools around the country. Though he died alone and in obscurity, Dr. Bouchet inspired his students, black and white, to reach for goals they never would have imagined without his influence.

Additional Information

Physicists of the African Diaspora

Biography from BlackPast.org

Biography from ConnecticutHistory.org

Edward Alexander Bouchet Honored by Yale University

Birth - Death

1852 - 1918