Dr. William Montague Cobb

Dr. William Montague Cobb was the first Black person to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology.

Degree(s): Anthropology, Doctor of Medicine

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Undergraduate Institution: Amherst College

Graduate Institution: Howard University College of Medicine (HBCU), Case Western Reserve University

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Photo Credit: Howard University

Dr. William Montague Cobb was the first Black person to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology. Prior to pursuing medical school at Howard University, he also completed research in embryology with Dr. Ernest Everett Just. As one of Howard’s first Black physicians in the College of Medicine, Dr. Cobb was selected by the dean to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology at Case Western Reserve. His research was dedicated to disproving then-held biases on the racial differences between Blacks and Whites in anatomy and anthropology. For example, his athletic and academic talent led him to study the link between race and athletics, where he disproved the theory that Jesse Owens’ Olympic success was based on his anatomy as a Black man.

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Fun Fact: Dr. Cobb was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

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