NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, African American, Female, Historians, Howard University, Also of Interest

Letitia Woods Brown
(October 24, 1915 – August 3, 1976)

4311 18th St. NW, Crestwood neighborhood, DC.

Brown was a committed educator and a historian who documented African Americans in DC’s early decades. She moved to DC in the 1960s to teach at Howard University, after stints teaching at Tuskegee University and Lemoyne College. She was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in History from Harvard University. In addition to other honors, she was awarded a Fulbright Award, and named to serve as a consultant to the Federal Executive Institute. She also taught at George Washington University from 1971 to 1976, the only full-time faculty of African descent during those years.

Brown is the author of Residence Patterns of Negroes in the District of Columbia 1800-1860 (1971), Free Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1790-1846 (1972), and Washington in the New Era (1972). She co-curated an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, “Washington from Banneker to Douglass 1791-1870” with Elise Lewis. She helped to preserve historical sites important to the DC African American community, and was active on the Committee of Landmarks of the National Capital. Brown was also the primary consultant to the Schlesinger Library Black Women History Project.

Brown died from cancer at age 60. She is remembered locally with the Historical Society of Washington’s annual history lecture series in her name, and the Letitia Woods Brown Fellowship in African American History and Culture at George Washington University. In addition, the Association of Black Women Historians offers an annual book award named for Brown.

Author photo courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University.