EDWARD ALEXANDER BOUCHET (1852-1918) 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, making him the first African American nominated for the society, but because Yale’s chapter of PBK was largely inactive for a period of 10+ years, he was not elected until 1884 when the chapter was reorganized. 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.” This made him the sixth American Ph.D. in physics and the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in any field from an American university. 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 would have never imagined without his influence.

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