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Craig, Arthur(1871–1959) - Engineer, educator, Improves Tuskegee’s Curriculum and Campus, Chronology

university school industrial electrical

Arthur Ulysses Craig was one of the first African Americans to earn an engineering degree in the United States. After Craig received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas, he studied abroad, returned to America, pursued graduate courses at two universities, helped to design an automobile, and worked as an educator at three historically black institutions. Craig’s students as well as the members of the communities where he lived and worked were the beneficiaries of his knowledge, experience, and concern for improving the lives of others.

Arthur Craig, the son of Henry and Harriet Talbert Craig, was born in Weston, Missouri, on December 1, 1871. Craig attended public schools in Weston and Atchison High School in Kansas. He graduated from Atchison High in 1890.

In September 1891, Craig began his matriculation at the University of Kansas’s School of Electrical Engineering. He was the third assistant in the physical laboratory. Craig received a B.S. in electrical engineering on June 5, 1895.

Craig traveled to Naas, Sweden. He enrolled in a Sloyd Training School at Naas that was founded by Otto Solomon, the Swedish educator. Solomon’s school attracted Swedish teachers as well as educators from many other countries. The objectives of the Sloyd System were to instill in students such traits as appreciation for work, respect for physical labor, self-reliance, organizational skills, neatness, accuracy, manual dexterity, attentiveness, perseverance, patience, precision, and productivity. Craig also observed industrial education in the Swedish cities of Stockholm and Goteberg as well as in London, England. Beginning in 1901, he studied psychology, manual training, and philosophy at Columbia University, in New York. From 1909 to 1910, he enrolled in ethics, psychology, and philosophy courses at the Catholic University of America.

Improves Tuskegee’s Curriculum and Campus

In 1896, Craig accepted a position as teacher of physics and electricity in the Industrial Department at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University). When Craig arrived at the Alabama campus, he added electrical engineering to the curriculum. Craig and the students installed and operated Tuskegee’s telephone system.

In addition, Craig designed the electrical lighting for Tuskegee’s original chapel, which was constructed between 1896 and 1898. The chapel was the first building on Tuskegee’s campus and the first in Macon County, Alabama, to be equipped with interior electrical lights. The town of Tuskegee also benefited from Craig’s expertise because he planned its lighting system which was supplied by the institute’s power plant. Under Craig’s guidance, students maintained the school’s power plant.

During the summer of 1900, Craig was employed by F. B. Stearns and Company. The Cleveland-based company manufactured automobiles from 1898 to 1929. Craig helped design at least one automobile. One year later, he was offered the position of head of the Industrial Department at Lincoln Institute (now known as Lincoln University) in his native state of Missouri.



Born in Weston, Missouri on December 1


Graduates from Atchison High School


Earns B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas


Accepts position as teacher of physics and electricity in the Industrial Department at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute; marries Luella C.G. Moore


Enters Columbia University where he studies psychology, manual training, and philosophy; begins teaching high school in Washington, D.C.


Appointed principal of Armstrong Manual Training Night School


Serves as superintendent of Sunday School at Lincoln Temple Congregational Church


Pursues courses in ethics, psychology, and philosophy at Catholic University of America


Marries Althea M. Rochon


Craig, Jenny - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Jenny Craig, Social and Economic Impact [next] [back] Cradle Will Rock (1999) - Overview, Synopsis, Critique

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