|Intro||American chemist and mathematician|
|A.K.A.||Angie Lena Turner King, Angie Lena Turner|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||9 December 1905, McDowell County, USA|
|Death||28 February 2004, Kanawha County, USA (aged 98 years)|
Angie Lena Turner King ( December 9, 1905 – February 28, 2004) was one of the first African-American women to gain degrees in chemistry and mathematics, and a PhD in mathematics education. She was a major influence on her students, including Margaret Strickland Collins and Katherine Goble Johnson.
Early life and education
Angie Lena (née Turner) King was born in 1905 in Elkhorn, West Virginia, a segregated coal mining community. She was the grandchild of slaves, living for a time with her grandmother after her mother died when King was eight, and her father died in a coal mining accident. She recalled sleeping in a cabin, where "in the winter time, when it would snow, I'd wake up with snow on my bed", and her lighter-skinned grandmother calling her "the black bitch": "I had it tough but it hasn't bothered my mind". Later, she lived with her grandfather, and was then able to attend school.
She had good grades, graduating from high school at 14 (in 1919), but was unaware that scholarships to college were a possibility. King began teaching training at Bluefield Colored Institute (now Bluefield State College), transferring to West Virginia State College. She paid her way through school waiting tables and washing dishes. She was awarded a Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, in mathematics and chemistry in 1927, with a thesis reporting on her studies on solutions of tannic acid and hydrous ferric oxide.
King began teaching at the laboratory high school of West Virginia State College (WVSC), studying at Cornell University in the summer. She was awarded a master's degree in chemistry and mathematics in 1931. She gained a teaching position at WVSC, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for her doctoral work. Her PhD was awarded in 1955 and reported in the local news, with a dissertation was an analysis of algebra in school textbooks before 1900. Her master's thesis and dissertation were her only publications.
In World War II, in response to a concern that the war would result in a shortage of college graduates needed as military officers after the war, a military training program called the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was established. The ASTP was segregated, and WVSC was one of six black colleges awarded ASTP units, and King taught chemistry in the program.
King's career was distinguished by her mentoring and teaching, with a legacy of many students going on to post-graduate studies, including Katherine Johnson, one of the scientists featured in Hidden Figures. Johnson singled her out as a major influence, saying King was "a wonderful teacher – bright, caring, and very rigorous". In a questionnaire to former West Virginia State students, 27 of 72 respondents nominated King as their favorite teacher, and most of them had gone on to postgraduate education. King received the West Virginia State College Alumnus of the Year in 1954.
King married Robert Elemore King in 1946, and they had five daughters. King lived on the WVSC campus until her death in 2004.
There are photos of Angie Turner King in The Pittsburgh Courier, and the West Virginia State College Archives.