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Turner, Charles H.(1867–1923) - Scientist, zoologist, researcher, educator, Becomes an Educator, Chronology, Gains International Prominence as Researcher

school university cincinnati turner’s

Charles Henry Turner, who lived during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was a scientist. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the biological sciences, conducted research on animal behavior, published in scientific journals, became a member of scientific organizations, and was elected to office in a scientific organization. In addition, Turner taught and/or served as an educational administrator during the more than three decades he conducted scientific research.

Turner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 3, 1867. He was the son of Thomas Turner, a church custodian from Alberta, Canada, and Addie Campbell Turner, a practical nurse from Lexington, Kentucky. According to several sources, Addie Turner was a former slave. Her husband was a well-read man who owned several hundred books, and the couple displayed a love of learning that proved inspirational to their son. In Cincinnati, Charles Turner attended the Walnut Hills District School and Gaines High School, which opened one year before Turner’s birth and was one of the first high schools for African Americans in Ohio. Turner graduated from Gaines as class valedictorian.

In 1886, Turner began attending the University of Cincinnati. He majored in biology, and Professor Clarence L. Herrick, a pioneer in psychobiology, was Turner’s mentor. In 1891, Turner received his B.S. One year later, he was a volunteer at the Cincinnati Observatory. Also in 1892, Turner received his M.S. from the University of Cincinnati and became the first African American to earn a graduate degree from the university. Turner was awarded the Ph.D. degree in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1907. The title of his dissertation was “The Homing of Ants: An Experimental Study of Ant Behavior.”

Becomes an Educator

Prior to receiving his undergraduate degree, Turner taught at the Governor Street School in Evansville, Indiana from 1888 to 1889. Also in 1889, Turner was briefly employed as a Cincinnati public school substitute teacher. In 1891, he began a two-year assistantship in biology at the University of Cincinnati. Turner’s goal was to obtain employment at an African American educational institution. In April 1893 he wrote to Booker T Washington, who was the principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University), for information about openings at African American colleges. Later that year, Turner was appointed professor of biology and chair of the Department of Science and Agriculture at Clark University (now known as Clark Atlanta University). Turner’s years at Clark marked the early stages of the fulfillment of his goal to work at black institutions, and all of his subsequent full-time employment was at African American schools. Turner, who also served as dean of the Georgia Summer School in 1901, remained at Clark until 1905. In 1906, Turner was principal of the College Hill School in Cleveland, Tennessee. From 1907 to 1908, he was employed as a professor of biology and chemistry at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1908, Turner moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he taught at Sumner High School. Sumner, founded in 1875, was the first African American high school west of the Mississippi River and was known for its prestigious faculty, which included Edward A. Bouchet, who earned a Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876 and consequently was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from an American university. Bouchet taught mathematics and physics at Sumner from 1902 to 1903.

Although most sources state that Turner taught at Sumner High, the African-American Heritage of St. Louis: A Guide asserts that Turner taught at Sumner Normal School, which was established at Sumner High in 1890 in order to provide an additional year of education beyond high school as a means of training African American teachers. In 1925, two years after Turner’s death, Sumner Normal School became Sumner Teachers’ College and today is known as Harris-Stowe State University. Whether Turner taught at the high school or the normal school, he remained at Sumner until illness forced him to retire in 1922.

Chronology

1867

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 3

1886

Enrolls at the University of Cincinnati

1887

Marries Leontine Troy who dies in 1895

1888–89

Teaches at the Governor Street School in Evansville, Indiana

1889

Serves as a substitute teacher in the Cincinnati public school system

1891

Receives B.S. degree from the University of Cincinnati; publishes first research article, “Morphology of the Avian Brain,” in Journal of Comparative Neurology; begins a two-year assistantship in biology at the University of Cincinnati

1892

Receives M.S. degree from the University of Cincinnati

1893

Appointed professor of biology and chair of the Department of Science and Agriculture at Clark University in Atlanta; remains at Clark until 1905

1901

Serves as dean of the Georgia Summer School

1906

Becomes principal of College Hill High School in Cleveland, Tennessee

1907

Receives Ph.D. from the University of Chicago; hired as a professor of biology and chemistry at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Atlanta; marries Lillian Porter

1908

Begins teaching at Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

1922

Retires from Sumner High School due to illness; moves to Chicago, Illinois

1923

Dies in Chicago on February 14

Sumner High School is located in the Ville, the historic district of St. Louis that was originally known as Elleardsville. In the late nineteenth century, the Ville was home to Irish and German immigrants as well as African Americans. Between 1920 and 1930, the neighborhood’s African American population increased from 8 percent to 86 percent. Turner and his family moved into the middle class community in 1912. On October 24, 2005, in recognition of Turner’s contributions to St. Louis and to the field of science, a proposal was submitted to the City of St. Louis Preservation Board to nominate Turner’s house for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Also located in the Ville is the Turner Middle School, a National Registry property that was formerly known as the Charles Henry Turner Open Air School for Crippled Children. The St. Louis Board of Education had the school built in 1925 to honor Turner’s memory. Many of the school’s students had tuberculosis, and in the 1920s, fresh air was considered therapeutic for the children; thus the school was designated open air.

During his career as an educator, Turner authored articles such as “Reason for Teaching Biology in Negro Schools,” published in The Southwestern Christian Advocate (1897), and “Will the Education of the Negro Solve the Race Problem?”, published in Twentieth Century Negro Literature (1902), edited by D.W. Culp. In the second article, Turner advocates a college education rather than industrial training for African Americans. He also wrote nature stories for children and more than thirty poems that apparently remained unpublished.

Gains International Prominence as Researcher

Turner pursued his research interests for more than three decades. He was a prolific researcher who published between fifty to seventy articles. Turner’s research was first published in 1891 when his undergraduate thesis, “Morphology of the Avian Brain,” appeared in the first volume of the Journal of Comparative Neurology , a publication founded by Clarence L. Herrick in 1891 that was known from 1904 to 1910 as the Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology before it reverted to its original name in 1911. In addition to Herrick’s journal, to which Turner contributed additional articles, Turner’s work appeared in periodicals such as the American Naturalist, Biological Bulletin, Journal of Animal Behavior, Psychological Bulletin, Science, Transactions of the Academy of Science at St. Louis , and Zoological Bulletin . In 2003, which marked the eightieth anniversary of Turner’s death, Selected Papers and Biography of Charles Henry Turner (1867–1923), Pioneer of Comparative Animal Behavior Studies was published.

Among Turner’s most impressive works are “The Homing of Ants: An Experimental Study of Ant Behavior,” which was based on his doctoral dissertation and was published in the September 1907 issue of the Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology , and the five hundred page treatise that Turner wrote with Clarence Herrick, Synopsis of the Entomostraca of Minnesota; With Descriptions of Related Species Comparing All Known Forms from the United States, Included in the Orders Copepoda, Cladocera, Ostrocada (1895).

Turner is best known as an expert on insect behavior. While investigating how ants find their way back to ant colonies, he found that ants use light and landmarks as factors to direct them to their nests. Turner was the first to describe a gyrating movement made by certain species of ants upon returning to their nests. Since 1910, when French scientists named the pattern of movement in honor of Turner’s findings, it has been known as “Turner’s circling.” Among Turner’s other findings were that certain insects can hear and distinguish pitch; that cockroaches can learn by trial and error; that bees respond to color, patterns, and odors; and that burrowing bees remember landmarks near their nests.

Turner was active in professional organizations. He became a member of the Academy of Science of St. Louis and was elected secretary of the entomology section and council member. Turner was also a member of the Academy of Science of Illinois and the Entomological Society of America. In 1907, he was a delegate to the Seventh International Zoological Congress.

In addition to his demanding work as an educator and researcher, Turner was active in civic affairs. In St. Louis, he improved social services for African Americans, served as the director of the Colored Branch, YMCA, and was involved in civil rights activities.

In 1887, Turner married Leontine Troy, who was from Cincinnati, during his undergraduate days at the University of Cincinnati. They were the parents of at least three children: Henry Owen Turner, Darwin Romanes Turner, and Louisa Mae Turner. Leontine Turner died in 1895 while her husband was employed at Clark. In 1907 Turner, who was then working at Haines, married Lillian Porter, who was from Augusta, Georgia. When Turner became ill in 1922 and retired from Sumner, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and lived in Darwin’s home. Henry Turner died on February 14, 1923, at the age of fifty-six. He was survived by his second wife and at least two children, Henry and Darwin, who were pharmacists. (Birth and date dates for Louisa, a teacher, are missing.)

Turner, J. Milton(1840–1915) - Consul, politician, Chronology, Continues Civil Rights Struggles [next] [back] Turner, Benjamin S.(1825–1894) - Politician, Endures Civil War, Becomes Leader after War, Represents Alabama in Congress

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almost 6 years ago

who was his brothers and sisters

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over 5 years ago

they did not say if he had any kids or any other family members unlike his wife

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over 5 years ago

A correction is needed 1n 1907



The Haines Institute was in Augusta, Georgia and is now

Lucy Craft Laney High School

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about 6 years ago

how did he die

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almost 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

thiss was nice because im doing him for my black history moth projact in scool

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thiss was nice because im doing him for my black history moth projact in scool

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over 3 years ago

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