Skip to main content

Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett collection

 Collection
Call Number: RH MS 1489

Overview

Dr. Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett was the first known African American woman to attend the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1937. She went on the create a succesful career and eventually became the director for the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York. This collection includes newspaper clippings, yearbooks, correspondence, several photographs, a dissertation including an interview with her, and items from her time in the Sumner High School Alumni Association.

Dates

  • 1908 - 2000

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of the Mowbray family

Dr. Geraldine Addie Mowbray-Arnett, known as "Gerrie," was born to George Hamilton Mowbray and Ethel (nee Jones) Mowbray on May 26, 1915 in Kansas City, Kansas. Her parents met while attending Howard University, where George studied electrical engineering and Ethel studied mathematics and education. Ethel was one of the founding members and one-time president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha service sorority, of which Geraldine was later a member. Ethel taught math in the public schools in her native Baltimore, Maryland before marrying George in 1913 and moving with him to Chicago.

George Mowbray earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago and went on the teach at Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas where Geraldine later attended. In Kansas City, Ethel joined the local PTA and became a caterer. She passed away in 1948. George married his second wife, Myrtle, in 1951. He passed away in 1981.

Geraldine attended Sumner High School and graduated in 1932. She then attended Howard University, graduating in 1936 with a chemistry degree. While at Howard, she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha service sorority. After leaving Howard she applied to the University of Kansas School of Medicine and was the first known African American woman to be accepted as a student, in 1937. She was forced to leave the school in 1939 by the school's dean, who stated that students of her race were only allowed to attend KU's medical school for first and secondary courses but not the clinical courses that followed. She left the school and went back to Howard University to finish her medical education.

After graduating in 1941, Mowbray opened her own family medical practice in Brooklyn, New York. She operated the practice until 1967 and obtained her masters in public health from Columbia University the same year. Mowbray-Arnett worked as a staff physician at a veteran's hospital in the 1970s and was named the director of West Chester County Board of Health in Pennsylvania. She later became the director for the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York. After her retirement, she moved to Hyattsville. In 2004 she moved to the Thomas House Retirement Community in Washington, DC.

She was married to her husband, Lawrence Arnett, for 26 years until his death in 1966. They had one daughter, Geraldine Anita Mowbray, who passed away in 1976. Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett died on October 31, 2012 at the age of 97. She was survived by her niece Pauline Arnett, cousin William Toney Seabolt, and friend Tina Blackwell.

Extent

0.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Scope and Contents

This collection includes newspaper clippings, yearbooks, correspondence, several photographs, an inscribed copy of Amber Reagan-Kendrick's dissertation including an interview with Mowbray-Arnett, and items from her time in the Sumner High School Alumni Association. Items mainly pertain to her education from high school through obtaining her masters degree in public health. They are organized by subject matter.

Items concerning Mowbray-Arnett's father, George, are grouped in an individual series at the end of the collection for family materials. This material includes his personal and work history as an educator at Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas.

Physical Location

RH MS 1489

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Tina Blackwell, 2018.

Source

Creator

Title
Guide to the Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett collection
Subtitle
Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett collection
Author
Finding aid prepared by bas. Finding aid encoded by bas.
Date
2019-05-16
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
http://hdl.handle.net/10407/8600682652
Preferred citation
Geraldine Mowbray-Arnett collection, RH MS 1489, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

Contact:
1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States
785-864-4334